/ 7 May 2008

Heartbreak for Cosmos as Downs snatch late win

It was heartbreak for Jomo Cosmos at Orkney’s Oppenheimer Stadium on Wednesday when an injury-time goal by Mamelodi Sundowns substitute Bryan Aldave plunged Ezenkosi further into the Absa Premiership relegation quagmire and earned Downs a 1-0 win.

Cosmos looked set to salvage a point until the Downs substitute struck home the only goal of the match from close range with only seconds remaining.

Cosmos are now in deep trouble on 22 points — the same as bottom-of-the-table Black Leopards, who have a match in hand. The two teams meet in a relegation decider next Wednesday.

With two fixtures remaining, time is fast running out for Cosmos. They have scored only 13 goals this season and on Wednesday’s powder-puff display by their strikers it was clear why the club are in trouble. Defensively they are sound but in attack they lack confidence.

For Downs coach Trott Moloto this was the perfect warm-up for Sunday’s crunch return leg of their African Champions league third-round clash against Sudanese champions al-Hilal at the Super Stadium. Al-Hilal lead 4-2 from the first leg.

Sundowns were the better of the two sides in the opening half. Cosmos looked like a team fighting relegation. They also lacked urgency while Downs played like a top-eight team and looked to be enjoying their game.

Downs knocked the ball around and looked dangerous from the flanks, especially right wing Josta Dladla who had the Cosmos defence at sixes and sevens.

Cosmos had two decent chances to score in the opening 45 minutes. Reneiliwe Letsholonyane made a mess of his opportunity in the fifth minute when he ballooned his shot over the crossbar.

Brazilians keeper Brain Baloyi did well to smother Nkosinathi Nhleko’s shot four minutes from the break.

But it was Downs who looked more likely to score. Lerato Chabangu had a shot on the Cosmos goal blocked by teammate Peter Ndlovu after 16 minutes.

Dladla was unlucky not to get the breakthrough in the 32nd minute — somehow his close-range effort was scrambled for a corner.

Chabangu shaved the upright when he connected a pin-point Dladla cross a minute from half-time.

Cosmos started to show more urgency after the break. But it was Downs who almost scored in the 56th minute.

Ndlovu headed Chabangu’s free-kick off the upright and the Cosmos defence managed to clear the loose ball off the goalline.

Cosmos came close on the hour when Nhleko’s had a close-range shot blocked, and seconds later in the goalmouth melee the former Bafana Bafana striker headed wide.

Cosmos keeper Avril Phali did well to pouch an Ndlovu header in the 63rd minute as the Brazilians started to go for the kill.

Chabangu was brought down inside the Cosmos penalty area by Letsholonyane on 75 minutes but referee Jonas Nhlapo waved play on.

But Cosmos’ afternoon was summed up when substitute striker Geoffrey Massa miskicked with the goal at his mercy and with three minutes left to play. — Sapa