Arrows’ relegation chances grow after losing to Aces

2014-03-13 00:00

GOLDEN Arrows are appearing more and more likely to be relegated to the National First Division following last night’s 2-1 loss to Mpumalanga Black Aces at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi.

A Themba Zwane strike 15 minutes from time proved to be the winner after substitute Rudolf Bester had equalised for the visitors. Earlier, a free-kick from Method Mwanjale had given Aces a deserved lead.

The first half was one that Arrows would want to forget, and would have reminded the small crowd why their team have been bottom of the log for so long. An inability to keep possession and an over-reliance on long balls meant that chances were few and far between for the home side, while Clive Barker’s Aces were patient and methodical in their build-ups.

Arrows would have been behind inside six minutes were it not for a fine save from veteran goalkeeper Arthur Bartman, whose extended left hand kept out a low shot from Thabo Qalinge after a teasing Abia Nale cross.

It was then Nale’s turn to force a save from Bartman with a driven shot from the left hand side of the area.

Arrows would have to wait until the 18th minute for their first-half chance, but it didn’t trouble Jackson ­Mabo­kgwane in the Aces goal as centre back Joseph Musonda blasted an effort over the crossbar.

The inevitable happened on 25 minutes after Arrows midfielder Thembela Sikhakhane fouled Qalinge on the edge of the area.

Mwanjale’s driven free kick took a massive deflection off Musonda, and Bartman was left with no chance as Aces went 1-0 up.

While Aces remained the better side throughout the half, Arrows got better as time went on and were getting into some decent positions. But the touch and composure in the final third was simply never there, and the closest they came was through a Festus Mbewe header that floated harmlessly over the crossbar.

There would have been some harsh words from Arrows’ caretaker coaches Shaun Bartlett and Bheka Phakathi at the break, and the pair brought on Bester for the booked Sikhakhane for the second period.

It was a move that proved to be a masterstroke, as a vastly different looking Arrows side were level just 14 minutes after the restart through a Bester header when Vuyisile Ntombaythethi had crossed a ball in from the left hand side.

It capped a spell of pressure for Arrows that included an instinctive save from Mabokgwane when Cristopher Katongo’s header from point-blank range appeared destined for the net just after the restart.

Arrows were livelier, hungrier and, more importantly, level. But they had the stuffing knocked out of them when Zwane side-footed home on 75 minutes after Bartman had parried a shot.

The home side, and crowd, would not recover from that and the prospect of Arrows being relegated to the National First Division appears more likely than ever before as they remain rooted to the foot of the league table.

Last night’s results

Bloem Celtic 2 - 1 Polokwane City

Golden Arrows 1 - 2 Mpumalanga Black Aces

Moroka Swallows 0 - 1 Orlando Pirates

Platinum Stars 2 - 0 Kaizer Chiefs.

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