Unpredictable Birds flying high again

Predictably unpredictable, Moroka Swallows regained their form and fortitude to beat Santos 3-0 in a fast and furious Absa Premiership game at Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.

The Soweto side, who seem to specialise in the unexpected, had made a desultory start to the season — mainly as a result of starting their games in a lacklustre, languid manner.

But this time the Birds went into top gear from the kick-off and took the lead in the opening minute after Santos goalkeeper Francis Chansa was unable to hold on to a rasping cross from Ace Bhengu on the left flank, and an alert David Radebe was on hand to score a stunning, opportunist goal.

It signalled what was to be a night on which the lights well and truly went out for Santos, with a floodlight failure causing the game to be halted for 13 minutes in the opening period.

And even after play was resumed, the lights on one of the pylons were not operational as Santos attempted in vain to turn the tide against a tough-tackling, resolute side that was unrecognisable from the one that had slumped to a 4-2 defeat against Cape Town’s other Premiership club, Ajax Cape Town, a mere week or so ago.

Swallows soaked up the pressure and then struck dramatically in the last seven minutes by scoring twice through substitutes Sibusiso Themba and Shaun Haschick for their first Premier League win of the season.

And it was Swallows who generally looked sharper and likelier to score from incisive counter-attacks, with only sensational saves by Chansa in quick succession from the speedy Radebe and Bhengu preventing what could have been a goal glut.

On the only occasion that Santos looked likely to equalise, Swallows’ Nigerian international goalkeeper, Greg Etafia, deflected a pin-point header from Eleazer Rodgers on to the post to prevent what seemed a certain goal.

The Swallows defence was unrecognisable from the leaky outfit on display against Ajax, with the introduction of James Mayinga at fullback and Brazilian Vinicius da Silva as a central defender making all the difference.

And while Swallows’ Brazilian coach, Julio Cesar Leal, thanked the club’s supporters in the crowd for turning up to this away game, it was overall another dismal league crowd with barely 2 000 spectators present. — Sapa

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