JOHANNESBURG – Three-time champions SuperSport United registered their second win of the season after thumping Swallows FC 3-0 in a DStv Premiership encounter at the Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Swallows has undergone a rollercoaster start to their campaign. They are in the MTN8 semi-final after beating Orlando Pirates in the quarter-final, while they had won a game, drew one and lost one in their last league outing against the Bucs.
Brandon Truter kept a bulk of the team that lost to Pirates away from home in their last outing, with last season’s impact player Kagiso Malinga the notable inclusion. But perhaps the early credit should go to returning goalkeeper Virgil Vries.
Before the half-an-hour, the Namibian shot-stopper had come to his team’s rescue on a number of occasions. Top of the lot from those saves was when he parried Iqraam Rayners’ curling effort from the edge of the box for a corner-kick.
The midfield battle had different generations – with Swallows consisting of veterans Lebohang Mokoena, Musa Nyatama and Thabo Matlaba, while SuperSport youngsters Jamie Webber, Jesse Donn and their livewire Teboho Mokoena.
SuperSport’s youthful pairing ran the show for the better part of the first half, making the team tick going forward and defensively. But their defence nearly cost them after Buhle Mkhwanazi, who was making his full debut, missed a clearance.
From his own half, defender Junaid Sait sent a lovely weighted long pass but Mkhwanazi missed it in the air, resulting in Keletso Makgwala getting at the end of the loose ball before setting up a one-on-one duel with goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
But the young striker unceremoniously slipped before he could unleash his shot at goal or set-up a running Malinga. And that was how the first half ended with the two teams going into the interval still deadlocked at 0-0 in Dobsonville, Soweto.
Swallows, though, were dealt with a blow early in the second half after Lehlohonolo Matlou, who’s been their best player this season, had to be subbed off due to medical reasons. He was replaced by Grant Mergeman, one of their new signings.
While the Birds were compact in the midfield with the addition of Mergeman, their lack of creativity going forward cost them dearly. SuperSport, meanwhile, were using diagonal crosses to find their target man, Thamsanqa Gabuza, upfront.
One of those balls paid dividends after Sipho Sibiya conceded a handball inside the box – a feat that was spotted by the assistant referee. Up stepped Webber who sent Vries the wrong way. And in a blink of an eye, the visitors doubled their lead.
A cross from Webber close to the by-line was parried back into play by Vries but the resultant rebound fell to Mokoena who rattled the roof of the net. But things turned from bad to worse after Sibiya fouled Webber inside the box as the referee awarded a penalty.
Gabuza took the spot-kick and sent Vries the wrong way. For Swallows, though, they’ll be eager to return to winning ways when they clash with Cape Town City in the league on Friday before they face the Citizens in the second leg of the MTN8 on Wednesday.