TUT found the form which had deserted them in the last three weeks to beat CUT 3-0 in Bloemfontein and secure a semi-final place for themselves.
With only pride to play for, CUT started the game in calm fashion, an approach that was mirrored by their visitors.
Against the run of play, CUT skipper Keitumetse Mabathoana found space in the opposition box and took aim at Sikhumbuzo Ncube’s goal, but Ncube cleaned up after initially spilling the ball.
TUT then received a freekick when Tlotlo Afrika was brought down just outside the box, but Boipelo Molale’s powerful left-footer rattled the crossbar, sending shivers down the spines of the home faithful.
After shaking off a prolonged spell of cramps, Thabo Samuel kept the game scoreless with a well-timed finger-tip save over the bar. Now inspired, the home side surged on for a goal and came close when Pule Thaele’s incisive through-ball found Mpho Molwatse, but his skied attempt would not have mattered had it gone in since he was flagged offside.
Despite consistent pressure from the home side, TUT took the lead in unconventional fashion when Tlotlo Afrika pounced on a long throw to fire into the top left corner and ignite his side’s hopes of a semi-final berth.
CUT nearly pulled one back just before the half-time break, but Tsietsi Ramosedi’s well-weighted freekick eluded everyone in the box.
CUT began the second half by replacing ever-present goalkeeper Samuel with Mpho Motsoahole, likely due to the former’s battle with cramps in the first half. Motsoahole seemed to struggle initially, even needing a goal-line clearance from Pule Thaele to save his blushes.
Soon after that, Ronald Mabasa almost doubled the visitors’ lead, but his teammate Lebogang Phatlane snatched the ball off his feet and blazed past the upright.
After his defensive heroics, Thaele provided action on the other side of the field, but his shot just peered over the bar. Thaele was then brought down on the edge of the box, only for Tsietsi Ramosedi’s shot to be blocked by the opposition wall.
Thabo Mokhele’s energetic dart forward in search of an equaliser resulted in a scramble in the TUT box, but the defence cleared the ball to safety.
After the hour mark, Mabasa powered through the CUT defence, but his low cross could not locate any of his teammates. Mabasa was soon rewarded for his persistence, though, when he headed in a rebound to hand the visitors a two-goal cushion.
With only a handful of minutes remaining, Molwatse latched onto Mabathoana’s no look pass, but Ncube denied the home side with his feet.
Barely a minute after coming on, Moses Lehlomela put the game beyond the home side’s reach and secured TUT’s place in the semi-finals.
TUT (1) 3 Tlotlo Afrika, Ronald Mabasa, Moses Lehomela
FNB Player of the Match: Tlotlo Afrika (TUT)
Debonairs Pizza Real Deal Save of the Match: Sikhumbuzo Ncube (TUT)
MTN Pulse Moment of Brilliance: Keitumetse Mabathoana (CUT)
CUT: 1. Thabo Samuel (GK), 22. Itumeleng Chelopo, 20. Ramothobi Motloung, 2. Phiwokuhle Mpalala, 6. Katleho Molakeng, 4. Tsietsi Ramosedi (capt), 8. Thabo Mokhele, 10. Keitumetse Mabathoana, 23. Mpho Molwatse,25. Mothusi Madilola, 14. Pule Thaele.
Replacements: 28. Mpho Motsoahole (GK), 9. Katlego Lephoto, 11. Khauhelo Ramotsoenyane, 15. Morena Lehloa, 17. Tlotlego Mjikeliso, 19. Oratile Mothibedi, 21. Vuyani Blom.
Coach: Mosai Rakometsi
TUT: 20. Sikhumbuzo Ncube (GK), 3. Rorisang Rapelang (capt), 5. Mogau Mphahlele, 16. Boipelo Molale, 2. Tumelo Mphela, 24. Jim Naselele, 6. Thuso Mlamla, 4. Wisdom Mathebula, 21. Tlotlo Afrika, 13. Lebogang Phatlane, 15. Ronald Mabasa.
Replacements: 25. Kgaratlo Phatsoane (GK), 11. Moses Lehlomela, 12. Loatile Tlholoe, 17. Brian Tshoba, 22. Ogorositswe Tabane, 27. Hendrick Xaba, 28. Tiego Mathebe.
Coach: Bushy Moloi
By Sam Styrax