Burly Aces striker Collins Mbesuma scored his seventh goal of the season three minutes before half-time to help his team preserve their unbeaten home record this season. Aces moved into second place in the league standings, but could finish the year in third place if Mamelodi Sundowns beat Orlando Pirates on Sunday afternoon.
Ajax, on the other hand, have slipped badly over the last few months, and now find themselves 13th in the standings after their fifth defeat of the campaign.
After a rather subdued start, the match suddenly sparked into life after a mistake at the back by Ajax defender Mosa Lebusa in the 11th minute. The centre back’s attempted back pass found Judas Moseamedi, but the Aces man’s shot was kept out by Ajax goalkeeper Anssi Jaakkola.
Ajax started to find some space out wide and exploited Aces’ three-man defensive line. The Cape side then managed to get a lot of balls into tall striker Nathan Paulse in the penalty area.
Paulse headed wide after a top cross by Erwin Isaacs in the 13th, while Aces goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters pushed Abbubaker Mobara’s effort onto the bar shortly after that.
Isaacs then had two great chances the 21st and 25th minutes respectively. However, he couldn’t keep his first effort down, while the latter chance was deflected onto the upright.
While Ajax dominated the first 30 minutes, Mbesuma tested Jaakkola with a strike to the near post. The big goalkeeper was up to the task, though.
The pace of the game increased in the last third of the first half, and it was end-to-end stuff in the last 15 minutes.
Ajax forward Bantu Mzwakali had his shot saved by Walters in the 31st minute, while Aces’ Lehlohonolo Nonyane saw his shot flash wide of the far post three minutes later.
Aces then had the best chances in the last 10 minutes of the first half. And, after missing a few straight-forward efforts, they finally opened the scoring through Mbesuma in the 43rd minute.
After former Ajax star Lebogang Manyama dribbled past Jaakkola, but then slipped with the goal at his mercy, Mbesuma slotted the ball home with his trusty left foot.
The pace of game certainly slowed down in the second half, and the chances also dried up.
Mbesuma found himself in the clear in the 56th minute, but he was unable to take advantage of a slip by Lebusa.
Ajax began to push for an equaliser, and their coach Roger de Sa brought on Prince Nxumalo to try and carve out at least a point.
Nxumalo had great chance in the 70th minute, but his header from a corner went wide. About 11 minutes later, he also squeezed a shot inches wide of the post.
Ajax kept on pilling on the pressure in the last 10 minutes of the match, but they would be left to regret all their missed opportunities on the night.