Marumo Gallants continued their rise up the DStv Premiership log with a 1-0 away win over high-flying Sekhukhune United at Ellis Park Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The result, secured by a second-half strike from Joseph Malongoane, sees Bahlabane ba Ntwa claim a third win from their last four matches and rise to 12th place – opening up a four-point buffer to the relegation zone.
Babina Noko, meanwhile, suffered a fifth loss of the campaign but remained in second place on 23 points – meaning leaders Mamelodi Sundowns now enjoy an 11-point lead having played just 14 games thus far in 2021/22.
Sekhukhune had the first chance of the match seven minutes after kick-off, with a smooth passing move teeing up Yusuf Maart, but the midfielder struck his effort straight into the arms of Gallants goalkeeper Washington Arubi.
The hosts generally enjoyed the better chances through the first half hour, with Tshedio Patjie and Talent Chawapiwa both spurning good openings, before Gallants found their rhythm and began threatening themselves.
Bahlabane ba Ntwa forced a sharp save from Sekhukhune goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata just after the 30 minute mark, with Lerato Lamola seeing his effort turned away by the Zambian shot-stopper.
The last notable chance of the first half went the way of the hosts, with Maart’s free kick picking out Willard Katsande, but his header was well off target, leaving it 0-0 at the interval.
Sekhukhune made a change at the start of the second half, with Pogiso Mahlangu replacing Blessing Sarupinda, and the substitute almost set up Patjie with a scoring chance on 51 minutes, but the ball narrowly avoided the forward’s run.
Further changes for Babina Noko arrived just past the hour mark, with Prince Nxumalo, Seth Parusnath and Nkanyiso Madonsela rising off the bench, but it was Gallants who broke the deadlock.
The visitors nicked the ball in midfield and capitalised on a momentary disorganisation in United’s defence, with Joseph Malongoane sending an effort beyond the reach of Nsabata to make it 1-0 in the 65th minute.
Sekhukhune looked for a quick reply and almost levelled the game five minutes later, with Madonsela given a clear sight of goal, only to send his shot wide of the mark – much to the relief of Arubi.
The hosts pushed hard for an equaliser and forced a couple of nervy moments, but ultimately Gallants’ defence and Arubi were able to hold firm and secure a key win for Bahlabane ba Ntwa.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming weekend, with Gallants away to Swallows on Saturday 11 December and Sekhukhune visiting Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday 12 December.
Sekhukhune United 0Marumo Gallants (0) 1 (Malongoane 65’)TEAMS
Sekhukhune United:Nsabata, Matona, Gyimah, Motsepe, Jampies, Katsande (Parusnath 61’), Maart, Sibanyoni (Nxumalo 61’), Sarupinda (Mahlangu 46’), Chawapiwa (Shai 74’), Patjie (Madonsela 61’)
Arubi, Kgoetyane, Nhlapo, Nonyane, Khumalo, Mabotja, Timm, Ndlondlo, Malongoane, Otladisa, Lamola
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