Kaizer Chiefs struck an injury-time winner to defeat Golden Arrows 1-0 at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday afternoon and further strengthen their grip on top spot in the Absa Premiership.
The result sees the Amakhosi extend their lead to 10 points over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns (who now have a game in hand), while Abafana Bes’thende drop to ninth place after a seventh loss of the season.
Chiefs looked the more capable team in the early minutes, using their passing game to good effect despite the pitch not being in great condition, though they initially struggled to really stretch the home side’s defence.
Even the Amakhosi’s usually excellent set piece delivery was not up to scratch through the first half, allowing the central defensive pairing of Trevor Mathiane and Nkosinathi Sibisi to dominate the Soweto side’s strikers Leonardo Castro and Samir Nurkovic.
Arrows themselves offered only a sporadic threat on the counter attack, leaving striker Knox Mutizwa – who was playing his 100th match for the Durban club – starved of the ball and sights of goal.
The score was 0-0 at the interval and Chiefs made a change at the start of the second half, with Reeve Frosler replacing Kgotso Moleko at right-back. The substitute helped to create the first clear chance of the game, with Lebogang Manyama given space to shoot in the box from Dumisani’s Zuma’s cutback, but his effort was brilliantly blocked by Sibisi in the 50th minute.
Arrows’ first effort on target arrived in the 64th minute, with Mutizwa seeing his deflected effort comfortably saved by Daniel Akpeyi. The Nigerian goalkeeper was soon called into action again, catching Mutizwa’s shot direct from a free kick three minutes later.
Chiefs began to build up a head of steam in the final quarter hour of regulation time, but they seemed unable to capitalise from their pressure. The only notable attacking chance came from an 89th minute free kick which found the head of Eric Mathoho, but his effort was comfortably saved by Arrows’ Sifiso Mlungwana.
However, just when a goalless stalemate seemed inevitable, the Soweto giants struck a winner three minutes into injury time. Mlugwana made a fine save to keep out an effort from Samir Nurkovic, but the rebound was fired home on the volley by Manyama to take Chiefs one step closer to league glory.
Arrows will return to Premiership action next weekend, hosting SuperSport United on Saturday 1 February, while Chiefs will have to wait until Saturday 15 February before resuming their league campaign with a home clash against Maritzburg United.