The late goal was perhaps the most exciting part of Tuesday night’s otherwise uninspiring DStv Premiership match between Swallows FC and Kaizer Chiefs at Dobsonville Stadium.
It was not a game you’d expect between old rivals as the two sides have a long history in South African football and come from the same township of Soweto. The game was mostly played at a pedestrian pace.
It was, however, not for a lack of trying from either side. And the Dube Birds went home the happiest having pocketed the full points with a 1-0 win courtesy of Joseph Mhlongo’s goal.
But, it was Chiefs who could have scored first, when just three minutes into the match, they had their first chance with Khama Billiat and Kgotso Moleko, who played as a winger, combining and sending in an inviting cross but Leonardo Castro’s attempted bicycle kick didn’t go as he wanted, and the ball sailed to safety.
After this incident nothing much happened in terms of scoring chances, though credit should also go to both sides defensively.
The game warmed up a little towards the end of the first half. And with five minutes to go to the break, Given Thibedi looked to cut through the Amakhosi defense, but Willard Katsande quickly saw the danger and fouled the youngster, taking one for the team and earning himself a yellow card for his effort.
Two minutes later, Amakhosi were on attack and Philani Zulu was unlucky to see his shot hit the post, with Virgil Vries having no chance of getting to it.
Amakhosi did get the ball into the net just at the end of the first half, with Lebogang Manyama curling a free kick beautifully past Vries, but Daniel Cardoso was judged to have bundled into the keeper, hence disabling him from attacking the ball.
The second half also started slow, with neither team making any real progress in terms of attack. They were rather waiting to catch each other on a counter, but none were sharp enough in the final third.
As the game looked headed for a goalless draw, however, with five minutes on the clock, the Dube Birds struck.
Mhlongo had come on for his debut as a second half substitute and got on the end of a cross from the right and hit it with a knee and beat Itumeleng Khune for the goal which pushed the Birds back to the top of the standings in their first season back in the top flight.