A spirited University of Johannesburg outfit gave Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies one of their toughest outings of this season’s Hollywoodbets Super League in the latest round of fixtures on Wednesday evening. However, the mid-table side was ultimately powerless to prevent the rampant Brazilians from adding three more points to their impressive season haul with a narrow 1-0 victory at the UJ Stadium.
After showing their bravery against First Touch Ladies three days earlier, Banyana Ba Style was faced with yet another sturdy opposition. As was the case last time, the high-flying defending champions showed great determination to further underscore their ability to notch up maximum points via pretty or gritty approaches notwithstanding the tactical styles of the opposition.
The first few minutes of the match featured quick thinking and rapid-fire wing play as both teams were seeking to make their intentions known from the get-go. The hosts adopted a fast-paced approach in attempting to close down the reigning champions, but the Brazilians nonetheless managed to weather the early storms.
With just five minutes into the game, forward Rhoda Mulaudzi was in the thick of the action thanks to her predatory runs which caused the opposition defense line several problems. The UJ outfit meanwhile responded with chances of their own but Sundowns goalie Nthabiseng Matshaba proved equal to the task.
Approaching the quarter-hour mark, the tough Orange Army who were playing with so much zest not witnessed in recent performances, continued to exert their dominance but their efforts were continually thwarted by the well-oiled Brazilians. With the healthy pace of the encounter being maintained, gaps began to appear during the closing stages of the first half but both sides managed to preserve their defensive composure.
At the beginning of the second half, Masandawana looked to the bench with Nonhlanhla Mthandi and Andisiwe Mgcoyi replacing Chantelle Esau and Thembelihle Masibi which resulted in a tactical shuffle by Coach Jerry Tshabalala. Those substitutions ensured the Chloorkop side began the restart on the front foot in a bid to take the wind out of UJ’s sails.
With the momentum firmly in their grasp, Masandawana eventually grabbed the lead thanks to a disputable goal with Boitumelo Rabale and substitute Mgcoyi claiming the plaudits. While the goal arrived courtesy of Rabale’s delightful in-swinging freekick, replays suggested that the ball may have slightly ricocheted off Mgcoyi’s head before hitting the back of the net. Nevertheless, the much-needed breakthrough sent the Sundowns bench into raptures while both players celebrated.
For the remainder of the game, both teams continued to knock on each other’s doors but the debated strike eventually proved the difference in the lively encounter. Speaking after the match, goalkeeper Matshaba who was rarely troubled on the day and kept a clean sheet spoke on the overall performance of the team.
“The game was a lively one with both teams showing their ability on the ball. Due to the high pressing of the UJ team, I received a couple of back passes from my defense as we looked to build-up play from the back on a number of occasions. It was a manageable game as we kept to our game plan and strategy. However, it was a bit frustrating at times when we struggled to break down their defense line. Despite that, I am glad we found a way to disrupt their resolve and earn the three points. We made several key observations during the game and we are going to work on them ahead of our next fixture,” said Matshaba.
The slender win sees Banyana Ba Style maintain their unbeaten run in the Hollywoodbets Super League this season with an incredible 18 wins and one draw after 19 games played thus far. The invincibility-chasing Brazilians have now scored 67 times this term and have conceded just nine goals all season.