Jeremiah Nkwana scored an absolute stunner of a free kick to hand UP-Tuks their second consecutive Varsity Football title.
The evenly poised match was always going to be separated by a moment of brilliance and that’s exactly what Nkwana delivered in the 76th minute.
Tuks took advantage of a shaky UJ and had an early chance through a Nkwana freekick in the third minute. The shot bounced short of Mduduzi Khumalo which caused the shot stopper to spill the ball but his defence reacted fast enough to clear the danger.
UJ started to settle and had a chance of their own through Sandro Claro but the winger was stopped by Lawrence Ntswane as he attempted to cut through the heart of the Tuks defence.
Lucky Mathosi’s height was proving to be a nuisance for the UJ defence and had a chance to hand Tuks the lead in the 16th minute when the lanky striker rose well to get his head onto the end of a corner but he couldn’t keep his header down.
UJ showed their threat from setpieces in the 19th minute when a corner was whipped in but Matthew Edwards’ tame header was easily dealt with by Lebo Ngubeni in the Tuks goal.
The high intensity match was evenly poised throughout the first half as players from both sides were on the wrong end of some hard tackles.
As the halftime break approached, the midfield battle intensified and both sets of players were forced to make quick decisions on the ball as space and time on the ball was shut down in the blink of an eye.
The match remained goalless at the halftime interval.
UJ came out firing in the second half and kept the Tuks defence under pressure but they lacked composure in the 18-yard area and, as a result, failed to trouble Ngubeni.
Tuks started to settle in the match and threatened the UJ goal. Richard Moremi broke through the UJ defence and had a one-on-one opportunity against Khumalo but the winger rushed his chip shot from the edge of the box and the ball sailed over the crossbar.
The intensity remained fast and furious as the hour mark was reached as both team’s defenders and goal keepers kept any and all attempts at bay.
Lerato Tleane gave away a needless free-kick just outside the box which provided an ideal chance for Nkwana to hand the defending champions the lead in the 76th minute.
The setpiece king stepped up and smashed the ball into the roof of the net to send the visiting supporters into ecstasy and hand Tuks the lead.
Edwards found himself alone in the Tuks box in the first minute of injury time but the lanky defender’s attempt at goal flew over the crossbar, and with it, the best chance UJ had to draw level.
The defending champions held on to retain the title they won last year.
FNB Man of the Match: Jeremiah Nkwana
Samsung Super Striker: Jeremiah Nkwana
For UP-Tuks: Nkwana
UJ: 16 Mduduzi Khumalo, 22 Wisdom Mathebula, 2 Matthew Edwards, 5 Lerato Tleane, 23 Tebogo Mandyu, 12 Kaylan More, 21 Grant Bruchhausen, 11 Tshepo Tolo, 7 Ruben De Freitas, 13 Sandro Claro, 14 Karl Clements.
Substitutes: 1 Trent Harrison, 19 Ruwell Jagger, 20 Stephen Sibanyoni, 9 Lumkile Dava, 17 Jarred Abrahams, 15 Omphile Majwafi, 18 Pontsho Nyathi.
UP-Tuks: 32 Lebo Ngubeni, 4 Lawrence Ntswane, 8 Nicholas Killas, 13 Lindsay Stowman, 20 Thabo Ndlovu, 10 Jeremiah Nkwana, 11 Richard Moremi, 5 Simbongile Njokwe, 15 Jarryd Van Den Berg, 9 Mbongeni Masilela, 18 Lucky Mathosi.
Substitutes: 1 Dylan Paterson, 6 Khumbulani Siluma, 12 Phuthego Mabitsela, 14 Tebogo Galane, 7 Luke Steyl, 22 Dean Wilkinson, 2 Botshelo Mfulwane.