Bidvest Wits beat Chippa United 3-1 in the Absa Premiership at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Sunday. The victory moves the Clever Boys to the top of the league. Chippa showed a good fighting spirit but it was ultimately in vain.
A nervous clearance in the seventh minute presented debutant James Keene with an opportunity to make his first valuable contribution to the team and he did magnificently so by fending off the United defence before setting up rising star Phakamani Mahlambi for the opener, a wicked deflection that rifled into the back of the net. After conceding the goal, the Chillie Boys started knocking the ball around and increased the intensity of their play in an eager attempt to find their way back into the match.
In the 17th minute, Artistide Bance spotted Moeneeb Josephs off his line and decided to have a crack at goal but failed to find the target. Josephs went down soon after clutching his groin area, causing some concern on the Wits bench, however after good work from the medical team, the keeper managed to recover swiftly and confirmed his recovery in the 25th minute when he rushed out to deny Bance who caught the Wits defence napping. Both teams were playing fantastic attacking football, utilising both wings and causing problems for the defence with dangerous crosses coming into the box from either side but failed to add to the score board.
The Wits attacking trio of Mahlambi, Daine Klate and James Keene were linking up well, and were a constant threat, whereas William Thwala and Bance ensured that the Wits defence were tested in the opposite half. It was a different start to the second half for the Port Elizabeth club, conceding an early goal courtesy of Wits debutant, James Keene who stabbed home from close range. The Clever Boys were playing exciting one-touch football that had the home team out of sorts and struggling to regain possession.
However, in the 55th minute against the run of play, Nkosinathi Mthiyane pulled one back for the hosts from a free kick, although there was a debate on whether Andile Mbenyane got the final touch. At 2-1, the momentum had swung the other way and Chippa were placing the visitors under pressure, especially down the left wing. Outstanding defending from Nazeer Allie kept Wits in the lead and in the 76th minute the visitors extended their lead to 3-1 following a cracker of a shot from Ben Motshwari on the edge of the box that whistled into the back of the net.
The goal seemed to have punctured Chippa’s confidence but not for long and the crowd were treated to a thrilling finish as end-to-end action ensued. The visitors sat back in the final minutes and were content with attacking on the counter but very nearly paid the price when James Okwuosa came close with a header with six minutes remaining, directing his effort just wide of the goal. The Nigerian came close again in the 89th minute as he tried to catch Josephs off his line but the veteran managed to recover and turned the effort over for a corner.
Despite showing good fighting spirit, the hosts could not score and the match ended 3-1 to Gavin Hunt’s charges.
Chippa United: Daniel Akpeyi, Thabang Thopola, James Okwuosa, Erick Chipeta, Nkosinathi Mthiyane, Buyani Sali, Ugonna Uzochukwu, Lerato Chabangu, Andile Mbenyane, William Thwala, Artistide Bance. Subs: Ayanda Masiko, Chris Matombo, Joseph Molangoane, Alton Macheke, Ruben Cloete, Rhulani Mazini, Thamsanqa Sangweni.
Bidvest Wits: Moeneeb Josephs, Nazeer Allie, Thulani Hlatswayo, Daine Klate, Elias Pelembe, Buhle Mkwanazi, Onismor Bhasera, Phakamani Mahlambi, James Keene, Ben Motshwari, Phumlani Ntshangase. Subs: Jethren Barr, Sibusiso Vilikazi, Henrico Botes, Siyabonga Nhlapo, Jabulani Shongwe, Paseka Sekese, Joaquim Lepeta.
Referee: Thando Ndzanzeka
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Photo credit: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix