Mamelodi Sundowns produced a dominant performance in their 2-1 win at home to move to 40 points at the top of the DStv Premiership table upon the final whistle at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
The Brazilians started off strong with intent, Rushine De Reuck was first to challenge Oscarine Masuluke with a free header after receiving the ball from a corner kick. Masandawana were closing Baroka down and forcing errors from them as they struggled to cope with the intensity and energy the champions were showing. Bakgakga’s Sekela Sithole managed to go past Downs defense during Baroka’s first attack in the clash, his attempt at Denis Onyango took a deflection Bafana Ba Style regained possession.
Masandawana were finding some joy down the flanks, a period of dominance in ball possession played out for the majority of the first half leading up to frustration from the visiting side. Kermit Erasmus was amongst the players named in the starting line up for the evening, the 31-year-old forward tried his own luck in shooting but his shot went wide off target. Meanwhile forward and top goalscorer for the defending Champions, Peter Shalulile sustained a worrying injury that saw him substituted off as he was no longer able to continue, Pavol Safranko made his way on to the pitch to carry on with Masandawana’s striking department duties.
A scuffle between the visitors and Masandawana occurred in the last minutes of the first half after the referee’s decision for Downs to take a free kick following foul play on Erasmus. Both Dan Ndlovu of Bakgakga and Erasmus were given yellow cards, however a red card for Erasmus, followed shortly. With a man down, Bafana Ba Style restarted play with a free-kick taken by Lyle Lakay. His placement landed right in the Baroka penalty box and De Reuck challenged for the ball that eventually met Rivaldo Coetzee who sidefooted the ball into an unattended net, Masandawana went into the break with a 1-0 lead.
Within minutes of the resumption after the break, Themba Zwane had a guilt-edged opportunity as Safranko’s chest pass found the midfielder near the penalty spot, but his frail shot was easily saved. First-half goal from Coetzee put the Tshwane giants in control inside the opening half an hour and there was no way back for an out of luck Baroka. Bennet Bobete’s header on target went straight into the hands of Onyango and Downs were able to see out much of the half without any further damage and without any threat playing with only ten players.
Gradually, Baroka regained their composure and forced a series of corners to put Downs under pressure. Richard Mbulu scored from a tight angle to give his side an equalizer and a chance to come back into the contest.
Masandawana started to build up a head of steam, with Zwane and Sphelele Mkhulise working hard to find a way through the visitors defense. Just after 80 minutes of play, the contest effectively ended as Zwane shot a cracker home from Thapelo Morena’s assist. Any hope of a comeback was extinguished when substitute Mothobi Mvala and Aubrey Modiba made their way on to the pitch.
And for all of Masandawana’s positive work despite losing a man in the first half, the result takes them 40 points from their 16 games played in the DStv Premiership.
Bafana Ba Style will be in action again on Friday, 17 December against Orlando Pirates.
This is how we lined up: D. Onyango, A. Jali, T. Zwane, G. Kekana, L. Lakay (85′ Mvala), R.Coetzee, R. De Reuck, T. Morena, P. Shalulile (22′ Safranko), K. Erasmus, S. Mkhulise (85′ Modiba)
R. Goss, M. Mvala, B. Onyango, L. Kapinga, P. Safranko (75′ Nascimento), A. Modiba, S.Vilakazi, D. Lunga, R. Nascimento