Wits overcome Leopards to keep faint title hopes alive

Deon Hotto celebrates goal with teammates Buhle Mkhwanazi and Gift Motupa of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Bidvest Wits and Black Leopards at the Bidvest Stadium, Johannesburg on the 24 April 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Deon Hotto celebrates goal with teammates Buhle Mkhwanazi and Gift Motupa of Bidvest Wits during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match between Bidvest Wits and Black Leopards at the Bidvest Stadium, Johannesburg on the 24 April 2019 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Bidvest Wits secured a 3-1 win over Black Leopards at the Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday night to keep the pressure on the two teams above them in the title race.

The win leaves Gavin Hunt’s team six points behind league leaders Orlando Pirates, who won 1-0 away at Maritzburg United. However, while the Buccaneers only have two games to play this season, Wits still have three, and like Mamelodi Sundowns, three points above them, cannot be discounted for the title.

In a hard-fought beginning to the contest, the hosts had a couple of openings, but there was nothing to overly extend Leopards keeper King Ndlovu.

Instead, Leopards were given the chance to go ahead after 22 minutes when they were awarded a penalty following a foul by Buhle Mkhwanazi.

The league’s leading scorer, Mwape Musonda, stepped up to the spot, but he failed dismally as he blasted the ball over the bar.

That was to come back to bite the visitors just five minutes later, when they conceded a penalty of their own after Ndlovu upended Simon Murray in the box.

The Scot took the spot kick himself and made it look easy as he powered the ball into the net to give the Clever Boys a 27th minute lead.

Just a minute later and it got even worse for Lidoda Duvha as Thulani Hlatshwayo whipped in a superb cross from the right which was met with an emphatic downward header into the net from Deon Hotto.

Namibian international Hotto was, however, to go from hero to villain when his reckless challenge in the box nine minutes before the interval saw another penalty conceded, and this time Mwape made no mistake with an emphatic kick to claim his 14th goal of the season and reduce the deficit to one on the night.

The visitors then came within inches of grabbing an equaliser just before halftime when Marks Munyai thudded a free kick into the woodwork.

Wits were, however, able to regain control of the match after the interval and after Cole Alexander’s header had been saved by Ndlovu, the hosts notched their third goal when Elias Pelembe picked up a loose ball, beat a defender and then found the back of the net in the 73rd minute.

Lesedi Kapinga squandered a chance to pull a goal back moments later and although Lidoda Duvha did create some openings in the dying minutes of the game, the Clever Boys were able to see out the win without too much issue.

Leopards remain only two points above the relegation zone.

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