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22 Dec 2007 08:52
Wits University moved to the top of the Premier Soccer League log following a bruising 1-0 victory over Moroka Swallows on Friday—also due to a stroke of apparent good fortune when referee Daniel Bennett turned down a concerted injury-time penalty appeal by the Birds.
Wits goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs appeared to up-end substitute Alton Meiring with a late, reckless tackle in the penalty area, but Bennett, once known as a referee who shoots from the hip, continued to lean strongly towards caution and refused to hand Swallows a lifeline.
On the run of play, however, the Students looked the more cohesive and better organised team and edged a point in front of Ajax from one extra fixture after Swallows lost the Midas touch that has brought them 11 goals in three successive victories.
Lethal Zambian striker James Chamanga, who has scored eight of Swallows’ recent 11 goals, was closely shadowed throughout and marked out of the game by a disciplined Wits defence.
The decisive strike in the game was the result of an enterprising interception by Noah Chivuta of one of a teammate’s routine shots at goal in the 44th minute—with the Zambian midfielder hammering the ball into the net after Swallows appeared to have the situation under control.
No quarter was given or asked by either side, and dangerous tackles materialised thick and fast.
An early collision left Ivan Winstanley in need of stitches below his eye and a bloodied face—but the Wits defender finished the game strongly and, what is more, some smart work from the home team’s medical staff managed to mask all signs of an injury.
Swallows Nigerian goalkeeper Greg Etafia, who has been in the wars this season, thwarted Wits’s Brazilian striker, Marcos de Jesus, on several occasions with fearless, point-blank saves—but he too was writhing on the pitch in agony after receiving a kick in the chest.—Sapa
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