Ten-man Santos hold out in derby to forget

Mention of derby soccer games conjures up a picture of jam-packed grandstands, an electric atmosphere, high-voltage football and a spate of inspirational goals.

Sad to say, none of these ingredients were evident in the Premier League game at a largely-deserted Athlone Stadium on Saturday night as a grim, stoic Santos held out for the last 20 minutes with 10 men to beat Ajax Cape Town 1-0 in what can aptly be described as a derby to forget.

A scrambled, opportunist goal from Erwin Isaacs in the 30th minute, which materialised against the run of play, was sufficient to earn Santos the three hard-earned points that elevate them to second position in the championship race—six points behind log leaders and defending champions SuperSport United.

An already ultra-defensive Santos were under heavy pressure when Bonginkosi Macala was ordered off in the 70th minute by referee Jerome Damon for a second bookable offence and the remainder of the proceedings evolved into a siege on the home team’s goal with what were effectively blank bullets from the jittery, bemused Ajax players.

And, in addition to Ajax’s inept, powder-puff finishing after dominating the game territorially, a good deal of concern must have emanated from the proceedings over the future of Cape Town’s brand new Green Point Stadium after the World Cup is over—considering that barely 1 000 spectators turned up at Athlone Stadium for what is supposedly the area’s major derby.

As for Ajax, matters appear to have gone from bad to worse since the departure of coach Muhsin Ertugral, with the players battling in mastering a new concept of football.

But bad finishing is bad finishing under any circumstances and the manner in which Vilakazi squandered a chance of equalising for Ajax in the 74th minute when a schoolboy would have slotted the ball into the net from close-range must surely cause grave misgivings. - Sapa

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