Leopards win basement battle

King Ndlovu © Gallo Images

Black Leopards claimed a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Maritzburg United at Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday to record their first points in the DStv Premiership in 2020-21.

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Both Lidoda Duvha and the Team of Choice came into the clash with zero points on the board, but the Limpopo hosts were able to edge a hard-fought clash thanks to a second-half strike from forward Rodney Ramagalela. The result sees Leopards rise to 13th on the log, while United are rock bottom.

Maritzburg started on the front foot and looked the more settled team in the opening quarter hour, with Keagan Buchanan and Daylon Claasen dictating terms in the middle of the park to give the visitors control of the game.

Yet the KwaZulu-Natal side were not quite able to turn their dominance into a regular supply of chances, with Judas Moseamedi and Jose Ali Meza unable to find a prominent place in the game.

Leopards also struggled to supply Ramagalela and fellow attackers such as Lifa Hlongwane, leaving the teams locked at 0-0 heading into the half-time interval.

The match continued to be evenly-balanced for the opening minutes of the second half, but a short while before the hour mark Lidoda Duvha broke the deadlock: Rodney Ramagalela turned home an assist from Hlongwane after a sweeping attack from the hosts, making it 1-0.

The Team of Choice looked for a quick reply and even shuffled their attack with the introduction of Thabiso Kutumela off the bench, but it was Leopards who threatened again with just under 20 minutes to play when substitute Thabiso Mokoena saw his effort turned away by debutant goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange.

Both teams were nervy and desperate in the dying minutes, but Leopards were able to hold their nerve and see out the game to claim a vital win – one which they will look to build on for the rest of the season.

Leopards will return to DStv Premiership action on Wednesday with a clash away to Bloemfontein Celtic, while Maritzburg will host SuperSport United next Friday night.

Black Leopards (0) 1 (Ramagalela 56’) Maritzburg United 0

LEOPARDS: K. Ndlovu, Sampson, Gyimah, Douhadji, Zulu, Thutlwa, Abubakar, Mthethwa, Ononogbu (T. Ndlovu 71’), Hlongwane, Ramagalela (Mokoena 70’)

MARITZBURG: Mwange, Sanoka, Allie, De Reuck, Hachi, Buchanan, Claasen, Ntshangase, Hlongwane, Moseamedi (Kutumela 65’), Meza