Tuks claimed a crucial 2-1 victory against Wits on Monday, while there were also Round 3 wins for UJ, VUT and NWU at the University of Pretoria.
TUKS 2 WITS 1
Tuks debutant Selotola Mathuane scored a fantastic 88th-minute free-kick to break Wits’ hearts at Tuks Stadium.
Football can be cruel. Wits had no business losing this match, but they squandered numerous goal-scoring chances and paid a heavy price for their lack of killer instinct.
This Gauteng derby had everything – drama, goals and fight from the players’ right until the end. To add further spice, Wits assistant coach Steve Matlou faced his former employers for the first time since leaving Tuks, where he had spent a decade in a similar role.
Tuks were under pressure to win this match after drawing with TUT and losing to Kovsies.
In a contender for goal of the tournament, Lebogang Montueli caught Wits goalkeeper Giovanni Idi napping with a long-range shot in the 14th minute to open the scoring.
The goal breathed life into this tightly contested encounter and helped to open it up a bit.
Tuks were good value for their 1-0 lead at half-time. However, Wits stepped up a gear in the second half and threw everything at Tuks in search of an equaliser.
It came in the 61st minute when Saluleko Mathonsi set up Muhammed Carrim to score with a well-taken shot.
That swung the momentum Wits’ way and Tuks were under all sorts of pressure.
With five minutes remaining, Tebogo Mandyu wasted an excellent opportunity to put Wits ahead when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
And they were made to rue that missed opportunity two minutes later when Mathuane scored to secure a smash-and-grab win for Tuks.
Tuks central midfielder Onela Xhamlashe was named the FNB Player of the Match.
UJ 1 UFS 0
Unbeaten UJ moved to the top of the Varsity Football log with a hard-fought victory over Kovsies, who had won their opening two games of the tournament.
The goal was scored in the 39th minute by Ngoanamello Rammala, the FNB Player of the Match.
VUT 3 UKZN 2
VUT laboured to victory over a much-improved UKZN, who suffered a 6-0 defeat to NWU last Friday.
It took VUT just eight minutes to find the back of the net when their talisman Thulani Sibisi capitalised on some shocking defence to score his fourth goal of the tournament.
VUT failed to convert numerous other goal-scoring opportunities, and UKZN made them pay when they scored a first-half stoppage-time equaliser through Siphelele Mbewana. It was the Impi’s first goal of the competition and gave them a big confidence boost.
UKZN would have been hoping for at least a share of the spoils, but Percy Shongwe’s back pass did not find goalkeeper Thandolwakhe Radebe in the 74th minute, and Ntokozo Mgidi took advantage of the mix-up to score a second goal for VUT.
UKZN then conceded a late penalty and Mgidi made it 3-1.
But the Impi did not give up and ensured a nerve-wracking finish when Mfundi Ngema scored their second goal in the 85th minute.
While VUT held on for the win, UKZN left the field with their heads held high after a spirited performance.
VUT’s Charles Sikhosana deservedly walked away with the FNB Player of the Match award.
NWU 2 TUT 0
NWU proved that their 2019 cup final triumph over TUT was no fluke when they beat their opponents for the first time during the league stage of Varsity Football.
Israel Matshane and Lesiba Mahlong scored in quick succession late in the first half, with Lesego Motsepe winning the FNB Player of the Match award.
TUT are still searching for their first win in this year’s tournament, having drawn with Tuks and lost to VUT and NWU. After an opening-round defeat to UJ, NWU have registered back-to-back victories.
This fixture lived up to expectations. It was a tense affair, with fights, flying tackles and touchline squabbles giving the referee a big headache. But the players gave their heart and soul, making it a real contest from start to finish.
TUT were on a mission to avenge their controversial cup final defeat in Mafikeng two years ago when they received two red cards. This time it was NWU that saw red, in the 67th minute, but Katleho Tsotetsi’s sending off for kicking out at a TUT player while lying on the ground didn’t prove costly.
Matshane broke the deadlock in the 39th minute with a low shot inside the penalty area from a Lesiba assist.
Mahlong then went from a provider to scorer in the 43rd minute, leaving lanky goalkeeper Sikhumbuzo Ncube rooted to the spot.
TUT risked exposing themselves at the back as they threw everything at NWU in the second half, but while they didn’t concede another goal, they were unable to score themselves to get back into the game.
Round 4 fixtures (Wednesday, 15 September):
UKZN vs UJ (14:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Variety 4, DStv channel 209)
VUT vs Tuks (15:00, Tuks B-Field)
UFS vs NWU (16:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Variety 4, DStv channel 209)
TUT vs Wits (18:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Variety 4, DStv channel 209)
By Charles Baloyi
Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Varsity Sports