A brace by Andrea Fileccia and one goal by Danny Venter saw new coach Ernst Middendorp’s tenure off to a bright start at the Bethlehem-based side as they move to position 15 from 16 while the Port Elizabeth side drop to 10 from number seven on the log standings.
It was the hosts who first signalled their intentions in the ninth minute with defender Robert Sankara seeing his effort at goal going wide to the right of goalkeeper, Ayanda Masiko’s posts.
In the 19th minute, crowd favourite, Mark Mayambela unleashed a shot directly from a set piece but he failed to hit the target as Mrisho Ngasa cleared the danger. Three minutes later, Rhulani Manzini nearly beat Daouda Diakite but his shot lacked venom and the keeper collected easily.
Although the match failed to produce many clear-cut scoring opportunities, it was the hosts who broke the deadlock through the Belgian forward, Fileccia, with a volley in the 34th minute.
Ea Lla Koto probed for their second goal of the match when Venter took a shot only to see it going astray to the left of the net. With fouls dominating the remaining minutes of the first stanza, the hosts managed to hold on to their lead going to the tunnel.
The Chilli Boys were a bit sleepy at the back in the early stages of the second half when Fileccia nearly completed his brace but missed the target.
In the 58th minute, Hendrik Somaeb’s attempt at goal failed to trouble Diakite as he missed to the right of the posts, however, Mayambela got a chance to score but the shotstopper made a crucial block to deny him.
Following constant pressure on the visitors, Venter finally found the back of the net with 13 minutes to go when he curled his shot past the keeper, Masiko to make it 2-0.
William Twala tried to respond quickly with a shot but again Diakite was equal to the task and safely held on.
In the dying stages of the tie, coach Roger Sikhakhane’s men pushed forward and tried to throw everything at Stars but it was Middendorp’s men who were more hungry as the Belgian completed his brace with his beautiful finish in the 84th minute to seal the victory for the Free State side.
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