NWU Mafikeng leapfrogged their hosts UJ on the Varsity Football table with a workmanlike win that could have been more comfortable than 1-0.
The electric atmosphere at UJ’s Soweto Campus Stadium was a fantastic catalyst for a great match up between the Orange Army and NWU Mafikeng.
As it happened, The Noble Boys were gifted the opportunity to open the scoring just seven minutes into the game. Siyabonga Goqo bundled Mandisi Gadla over, but penalty taker Lindani Nkabinde – with chirps ringing in his ear, and starting his preparation facing the wrong way – put his effort past the left upright.
This delighted the crowd and prompted UJ to find their feet. A few opportunities either side of the half-hour came and went for them as Luzuko Jevuka produced a more convincing performance than last week in NWU’s goal.
UJ, though, were again lucky not to go into the break 1-0 down when Nkabinde cleverly broke past their rearguard only for Jevuka to thwart his shot at goal.
The complexion of the game changed just two minutes into the second half, when NWU found what they were missing earlier. Nkabinde turned provider for Gadla, who slide-ruled his effort past Jevuka to finally put the visitors 1-0 up and silence the crowd.
NWU then played smartly, using second balls which helped them to add more numbers to the hosts half and allowing their wingers to run wide.
UJ did not let that demoralise them as they continued to use their substitute striker, Tristan Nikitaridis as their target man with high balls – but his knockdowns came to nought.
Either way, both goalkeepers were in inspired mood as they performed beyond expectations making it hard for both sides to increase the margin of the game.
In the final 15 minutes, Lebone Lephiri tried to restore parity but he failed to hit the target and it proved the final significant chance; allowing NWU to return home to Mafikeng with all three points.
NWU (0) 1 Mandisi Gadla
FNB Player of the Match: Lindani Nkabinde (NWU)
Debonairs Real Deal Save of the Match: Alan Mabuza (UJ)
MTN Moment of Brilliance: Mandisi Gadla (NWU)
UJ: 27. Alan Mabuza (GK), 17. Sihle Mbele, 19. Siyabonga Goqo, 23. Lebone Lephiri, 2. Nkosinathi Sibiya, 24. Lebogang Mosiane, 14. Thabang Lebese, 6. Sphesihle Mbhele (capt), 10. Sibusiso Dlamini, 25. Keegan Faver, 8. Phelelani Mvelase
Replacements: 28. Richard Lona (GK), 5. Preston McKay, 7. Junior Makhubele, 18. Moagi Makhoane, 21. Gerald Ndlovu, 22. Goodwell Mosima, 26. Tristan Nikitaridis.
Coach: Mandla Zwane
NWU: 28. Luzuko Jevuka (GK), 22. Lesego Motsepe, 2. Tholinhlanhla Masuku, 14. Tshepiso Mahlangu, 8. Kananelo Motsoeneng, 21. Banele Hlophe, 5. Sibusiso Ndlovu, 7. Paseka Matsheka (capt), 16. Israel Matshane, 23. Simphiwe Mlangeni, 24. Mandisi Gadla.
Replacements: 27. Kagiso Ramadivhane (GK), 3. Wandile Luvuno, 4. Gift Mogorosi, 6. Lindani Nkabinde, 9. Adam Fynn, 11. Kagiso Moshotetsi, 12. Bongani Taaibosch.
Coach: Karabo Masehela
By Gontse Hlophe