Stars leave themselves with a mountain to climb

Siphiwe Mnguni of Platinum Stars challenged by Tebogo Mabula of Jomo Cosmos during the National First Division 2017/18 Promotion Playoffs match between Platinum Stars and Jomo Cosmos at Moruleng Stadium, Rustenburg on 23 May 2018 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Siphiwe Mnguni of Platinum Stars challenged by Tebogo Mabula of Jomo Cosmos during the National First Division 2017/18 Promotion Playoffs match between Platinum Stars and Jomo Cosmos at Moruleng Stadium, Rustenburg on 23 May 2018 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Platinum Stars’ hopes of surviving the relegation axe suffered a big blow when they were held to a 0-0 draw by Jomo Cosmos in Wednesday night’s play-off match at the Moruleng Stadium.

A lack of a cutting edge up front proved costly for Stars, who missed several good chances in the first half in particular.

The result leaves Roger De Sa’s side with just one point, with Cosmos on two and Black Leopards on four, each team having played two of their four play-off matches.

The first half was a lively affair and despite no goals being scored, both sides showed plenty of attacking intent and both goalkeepers were made to earn their pay.

Cosmos midfielder Tebogo Makhobela had the early chances, but on both occasions he fired too close to Stars keeper Dino Visser.

Dikwena, though, also looked dangerous on attack and they appeared to be set to take a 28th minute lead when Bongi Ntuli fashioned space for a shot just eight-yards out, but Ezenkosi keeper King Ndlovu made an unbelievable reflex save to tip the ball over the bar.

Stars followed that up with a free kick from Riyaad Norodien which whistled just over goal.

The action continued end-to-end and Cosmos came close nine minutes before the interval when Tebogo Mabula nodded a header over the bar after Makhobela’s initial shot had been blocked on the line.

The game remained tight after the restart, with chances hard to come by. Stars had what looked a decent call for a penalty turned down after Thato Lingwati’s clumsy challenge on Ntuli.

At the other end, Mabula was brought down just outside the box by Stars captain Enocent Mkhabela, but the resultant free kick midway through the second stanza was curled inches wide by Cosmos substitute Tebogo Tloane.

Dikwena stepped up their efforts in the closing 15 minutes of the game, but it just wouldn’t fall for them as Ntuli sent a header marginally wide, Letsie Koapeng spurned a couple of shots on goal, and several other promising attacks came to zero.

There was some backs-to-the-wall defending from Ezenkosi late on, including one especially impressive tackle from Lingwati, as the visitors held on stubbornly to earn a share of the spoils.

Next up for Platinum Stars is Black Leopards, whom they host on Saturday in what is now a must-win game. The first game between the two sides a week ago ended in a 1-0 win for Leopards over Stars.

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