Wits move off the bottom with win over fellow strugglers SuperSport
Bidvest Wits got their mojo back, blitzed SuperSport United in the opening half-hour on Wednesday night, then closed shop to get that valuable win that they have been desperate for to finally escape last place in the Absa Premiership.
Bongani Khumalo and James Keene’s strikes in the 16th and 19th minutes made it a 2-0 victory to finally lift the air of depression that had fallen over Bidvest Stadium this season, as for the first time Wits actually looked like defending champions.
They ended a run of four games without a win and went to 14 points, bumping Ajax Cape Town (13) into last.
Clever Boys coach Gavin Hunt might have blamed his side’s missed chances for their atrocious start.
But in truth, as much as there were those, it has been the explosion in the legs of attackers entering the opposition penalty area, and the shock value and disarray that provides, that has been as much lacking.
On Wednesday night, aware they desperately needed three home points facing a gruelling next four matches (Chippa United, Bloemfontein Celtic, SuperSport again, and Kaizer Chiefs), Wits found that bang again, overwhelming Matsatsantsa in the first half.
Hunt’s team, after being flat as road kill all season – except in the cups – finally found their fire in the belly and came out like an angry, cornered mongoose.
From Sifiso Myeni’s chip Lehlohonolo Majoro forced a save from Reyaad Pieterse, then hit the post. The lively striker and partner in crime James Keene were a handful for SuperSport’s injury and suspension-enforced centreback Grant Kekana, and combined for Majoro to see a shot blocked.
Captain fantastic Thulani Hlatshwayo playing a hand in both Wits’ two goals in three minutes.
“Tyson” headed Myeni’s corner from the left back in for Bongani Khumalo in the middle, who chested and volleyed past Pieterse like a striker.
Then Hlatshwayo’s glanced header put Keene down the right, who showed the strength of an ox to hold off big Azubuike Egwueke and shoot from a crazy angle, beating Pieterse low at the near post.
It could have been three, Hlatshwayo’s low, hard cross finding Khumalo for a first-time shot that was kept out by Pieterse’s feet in the 28th.
If Wits had blown like Charlie Parker at Birdland in the first half, they played to a more sedate Gershwin tune in the second.
And SuperSport, wind out of their sails, struggled to find the movement to break down a Clever Boys who soaked pressure to protect their lead.
Matsatsantsa coach Eric Tinkler brought on Sipho Mbule and Thabo Mnyamane – making his return from injury for a fourth league appearance of 2017-18 – for Reneilwe Letsholonyane and a distracted Jeremy Brockie to shake things up.
But Wits, not about to let this perhaps season-turning three points go for the world, were iron-tight.
Other midweek results:
Tuesday, 9 January 2018:
Ajax Cape Town 1 - 2 Mamelodi Sundowns