SuperSport United took a step closer to winning their first Absa Premiership title when they beat Golden Arrows 2-0 in their penultimate fixture of the season at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Wednesday night.
United led 1-0 at half-time.
The win heaps pressure on second-placed Ajax Cape Town, who play Cape neighbours Santos in their second-last league encounter at the Athlone Stadium on Thursday night.
United, with 54 points, now have a four-point lead over Ajax going into their final match against Bloemfontein Celtic at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium on Sunday.
Ajax end their season on Sunday when they travel to Umlazi’s King Zwelithini Stadium to play Arrows, who will now have to beat the Urban Warriors at home to be sure of qualifying for next season’s new Top Eight Cup.
But if Ajax lose against Santos then United will be crowned champions before the kick-off against Celtic.
United had the better of the first-half exchanges but Arrows troubled the title-chasing home side when they hit on the counter-attack.
Arrows goalkeeper Brendan Wardle had trouble timing his clearances in the first half. But he had no trouble in dealing with a powder-puff shot from Dennis Masina after four minutes.
Two minutes later, Masina, the Swaziland international, failed to connect a left-wing cross from Diane Klate as United went for the early goal.
Klate sent over another good cross in the 12th minute but this time Katlego Mashego — who bagged four goals in the 4-2 win over Moroka Swallows at the weekend — failed to get a toe to the ball.
United, to the delight of the enthusiastic 4 000 crowd, went ahead in the 19th minute thanks to a double mistake from the Arrows defence.
Billy Ratsoana’s clearance went straight to United striker Teferra Fikru, who was helped when Arrows’ other central defender, Musa Bilankulu, slipped and gave Fikru a clear run at goal. The Ethiopian striker netted with a superb strike.
It was his third goal of the season and could be his most important.
Arrows midfielder Abia Nale went wide after 24 minutes, while United’s veteran keeper, Andre Arendse, made a mess of his clearance in the 40th minute and he was lucky when Ratsoana’s lob from the loose ball went over the crossbar.
United needed an insurance goal and they got it in the 57th minute when Mashego’s left-footed drive hit the far corner of the net after some good build-up work from Masina and Klate.
Arrows’ best chance to reduce the deficit came 10 minutes later, but Nale blasted over the United crossbar when he should have at least hit the target.
Elias Pelembe should have made it 3-0 in the 77th minute but the Mozambique midfielder missed an open goal.
Arendse blotted his copy book in the last minute when he was booked by referee Daniel Bennett for time-wasting.
But with United in control, Arrows fizzled out, as did the match and United are now favourites to lift their first Premiership title. — Sapa