Wits beat NWU 2-0 at Tuks Stadium on Friday to boost their Varsity Football semi-final hopes, while TUT and Tuks needed late winners to beat UJ and UKZN respectively.
NWU 0 WITS 2
NWU’s defence was breached for the first time in four fixtures as Wits moved above the defending champions on the Varsity Football log with one round of league-stage matches remaining.
Welcome Masemola struck in the 44th minute and Saluleko Sibande provided the killer blow in the 79th.
Saluleko Mathonsi, who provided the assist for the second goal, won the FNB Player of the Match award.
In hot conditions, NWU were quick to get into their rhythm, stretching the Wits defence, but could not turn that ball possession into scoring opportunities.
NWU fullback Lesego Motsepe had his hands full in containing Wits’ danger man Masemola, who slipped away from him just before half-time to tuck in a rebound and open the scoring.
Wits were dangerous on the counter-attack in the second half as NWU pushed more bodies forward.
It was defensive errors from goalkeeper Lesedi Mokwena and defender Motsepe that allowed Sibande to pounce after a beautiful assist from Mathonsi.
Wits’ technical team celebrated the goal wildly with their players, much to the frustration of NWU coach Karabo Masehela.
TUT 1 UJ 0
Victor Maganye’s 87th-minute goal gave TUT a crucial win at the Tuks B-Field that keeps their semi-final hopes alive.
It was UJ’s first defeat of the campaign, although they remain top of the log after Round 6.
TUT’s Tshepiso Mnisi was named the FNB Player of the Match.
VUT 2 UFS 2
VUT showed great character by coming back from two goals down to claim a share of the spoils at Tuks Stadium.
It was a game of two halves as Kovsies dominated the first with goals from Kamohelo Macholo and Alonso Diedricks, before Ntokozo Mgidi and Charles Sikhosana hit back for VUT in the second.
The faces of Kovsies players at the final whistle showed that the draw felt like a loss for them. However, the one point still sees them occupy third spot on the log with nine points heading into the last round of league-stage matches. VUT are one of four teams with eight points.
VUT’s Abram Thotse won the FNB Player of the Match award after an inspiring second-half display.
Kamogelo Macholo opened the scoring for Kovsies in the 17th minute after a poor clearance by goalkeeper Obakeng Naane.
VUT’s defensive horror show continued when two players collided, allowing Diedricks to roll the ball into an empty net in the 20th minute.
Kovsies should have added to their tally through Sello Dipkoko, but Naane redeemed himself with a beautiful save in the 33rd minute.
VUT improved after the break and scored in the 48th minute with a well-taken free-kick by Ntokozo Mgidi.
Kovsies goalkeeper Ntobeko Mhlongo and his two centre-backs then made a blunder that allowed Charles Sikhosana to equalise in the 62nd minute.
TUKS 1 UKZN 0
Substitute Conor Keylock broke UKZN hearts with a dramatic late winner at Tuks Stadium.
It took the hosts 85 minutes to break down the Impi’s rock-solid defence.
UKZN, who had conceded 16 goals in their previous five games, so nearly collected their first point in the competition and left the field with their heads held high.
The win took Tuks to second place on the log with 11 points from six matches.
Tuks’ Onela Xhamlashe won the FNB Player of the Match award.
The Pretoria students did everything except put the ball into the back of the net in the early stages of the match. But UKZN grew in confidence the longer the game remained goalless.
Tuks grew in frustration with UKZN getting set pieces and more of the ball.
The Impi came agonisingly close to scoring in the 72nd minute when Mfundi Ngema’s shot was brilliantly saved by Tuks goalkeeper Siyabonga Gumede.
It looked like UKZN would at least come away with a point, but Keylock had other ideas.
Round 7 fixtures (Sunday, 26 September):
UJ vs VUT (14:00, Tuks B-Field)
Tuks vs NWU (16:00, Tuks B-Field)
UFS vs Wits (16:00, Tuks Stadium)
TUT vs UKZN (18:00, Tuks Stadium)
By Charles Baloyi
Photos: Catherine Kotze/Christiaan Kotze/Varsity Sports