Urban Warriors’ hot form continues

Ajax Cape Town beat Free State Stars 2-1 at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday night to move up to second position on the standings.

It was a deserved win for the Urban Warriors, who scored first through Tashreeq Morris, but were pegged back to 1-1 by Paulus Masehe’s goal before Thabiso Nkoana scored the winner, all three goals coming in the first half.

There was very little to report on during the opening 10 minutes – although Ajax enjoyed the bulk of the ball possession, they battled to create any chances against a well-organised Stars defence, with the final ball from midfield often over-hit or misplaced.

With 11 minutes played there was an opportunity for Nkoana, but he shot tamely straight at Stars keeper Ayanda Mtshali, who did well to close down the angle.

Ea Lla Koto were forced into having efforts on goal from long range, but shots such as Moffat Mdluli’s 24th minute effort which skewed wide of goal were never going to trouble home keeper Anssi Jaakkola.

Finally, in the 25th minute, the game got the goal it needed, with Morris doing the honours by getting on the end of Nkoana’s cross to score with a first time shot from just outside the six yard box.

Five minutes later and it could have been 2-0 to the hosts but Cecil Lolo was unfortunate to see his effort hitting the woodwork before going out of play.

Instead, it was at the opposite end of the field that the next goal was to arrive, Paulus Masehe hooking a 35th minute volley over the line following a corner kick, despite Granwald Scott’s attempts to clear the ball off the line.

But just five minutes later the Cape side restored their lead when Lolo got to the byline, played in a low cross, which saw Nkoana quickest to respond as he slid in to finish from on the edge of the six yard box.

The Urban Warriors could have been 3-1 just moments after the break, but having been played in on goal by Nkoana, Morris sent his parting shot inches wide of the base of the upright.

At the other end of the park, Richard Henyekane wasted a golden opportunity – having been clean in on goal, he took too long to get his shot away and allowed an Ajax defender to get back and make a block.

Morris then had another chance for Roger De Sa’s men, but failed to find the power or precision on his header to beat Mtshali just before the hour mark, while left-back Musa Lebusa got good contact on his header, but directed it straight at the Stars goal minder.

Ea Lla Koto substitute Rudolph Bester nearly made an immediate impact with his 68th minute fee kick as Stars continued to fight to try and get back in to the game, but Ajax keeper Jaakkola made a fine save, getting down quickly to his left.

The game remained on a knife-edge, the result still very much up for grabs as the contest moved into the final 10 minutes, with Ajax suffering a setback when captain Travis Graham was forced off by injury, to be replaced by Lance Davids.

There was an 87th minute chance for Lebusa, but Mtshali did well to push away his angled shot to keep Stars in with a chance of snatching a late point.

Ajax were however able to survive a late onslaught from the visitors as they held on for their fourth win in six league games this season.

Ajax Cape Town (2) 2 (Morris 25’, Nkoana 40’)

Free State Stars (1) (Masehe 35’)


Ajax Cape Town: Jaakkola, Allie, Coetzee, Mobara, Lebusa, Graham (Davids 83’), Lolo, Scott, Dolly, Morris, Nkoana (Ngalande 74’)

Free State Stars: Mtshali, Mashego (Bester 65’), Sankara, Letuka, Masehe, Da Costa, Shabalala (Mkhwanzi 46’), Mdluli, Sekola, Andrea, Henyekane (Abraw 58’)