Chippa share spoils

EVASIVE ACTION: Chippa United’s Mhlengi Cele controls possession during their Absa Premiership match against Polokwane City at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last night
EVASIVE ACTION: Chippa United’s Mhlengi Cele controls possession during their Absa Premiership match against Polokwane City at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last night

Chilli Boys feel the pressure after nine-match winless streak

CHIPPA United’s winless streak continued last night when they were held to a 1-1 draw against Polokwane City in an Absa Premier Soccer League match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.

Chippa went into the match desperately needing a victory, but in the end had to settle for a share of the spoils, with goals coming from Mhengi Cele for the home team and Jabulani Maluleke for the visitors.

Chippa are well aware that they are in a scrap for relegation, and the fact that they have not won in nine matches will only add to the undoubted pressure they are beginning to feel.

Earlier in the week, coach Ernst Middendorp said he believed 32 league points would be enough to escape relegation. After last night, that target remains eight points away.

During the first half, both teams missed many chances.

The first strike came just three minutes into the game from the visitors, when Rendani Ndou’s strike went straight to Chippa’s goalkeeper Mzimela Mbonngeni.

The Chilli Boys hit back in the 10th minute, with Andile Mbanyane’s header hitting the side net.

Middendorp’s boys gave the Polokwane side more space and, as a result, they saw themselves defending throughout the last minutes of the first half.

Rise and Shine took advantage of the shaky Chippa United backline.

Esau Kanayenda easily penetrated the Chilli Boys’ defence and found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but failed to put the ball inside the net. Another attempt by the visitors that could have seen them ending the first half in the lead came when Jabulani Malileke’s free kick just outside the box sailed over the crossbar.

Just before the end of the first half, Kosta Papic took Rendani Ndou out and replaced him with Thobani Mngcwango.

Middendorp replaced Thamisanqa Sangweni in the middle with defender Siyabonga Zulu to try and strengthen his defence.

The second substitution saw Ungona Uzochukwu being replaced by George Akpabio.

The first goal of the night came after Akpabio’s shot on target was punched out by Polokwane’s goalkeeper Modiri Maruma. Mhlengi Cele placed the rebound comfortably into the net.

Meanwhile, Kaizer Chiefs laughed aside claims of tentativeness and potential panic in the PSL title race to restore a double-digit gap at the top of the standings as they beat Ajax Cape Town 1-0.

In the other match, Free State Stars held Eric Tinkler’s Orlando Pirates to a 1-1 draw.

After four straight wins, the Buccaneers came into this game believing they can win their remaining matches this season and win the title.

Pirates will go into Saturday’s derby 14 points behind Amakhosi.

-Vuyokazi Nkanjeni

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