Absa Premiership

Ea Lla Koto send Wits packing

Free State Stars v Wits (Gallo Images)
Free State Stars v Wits (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Free State Stars found an additional gear in extra-time as they scored thrice to beat Bidvest Wits 3-1 in a Telkom Knockout last 16 encounter at Goble Park on Saturday.

The first half belonged to the visitors, but they could not turn their superiority into goals. A rather dull second half saw a succession of chances for Wits in the final minutes of regulation time. Stars came out firing into extra time and scored three times before the visitors pulled one back at the death.

On the balance of play and chances created, Bidvest Wits should have been at least a goal to the good after they dominated the first half.

Stars however had the first real opportunity on goal, on 18 minutes, but Sthembiso Dlamini’s first time shot from 18-yards was steered just wide of the target.

Play quickly switched the other end of the park where the ball fell to Gabadinho Mhango just outside the box, but his volley skimmed just over goal.

More chances followed for the Johannesburg team, but Elias Pelembe was unfortunate to see his 33rd minute shot smacking the crossbar after he had cut in from the right flank.

The woodwork was to deny the Clever Boys again 12 minutes later when Mhango scooped the ball over the Stars defence before heading into the upright.

After a flurry of early second half action, that failed to bring any clear-cut chances, the game slowed down somewhat as neither team were able to find much cohesion going forward.

An opportunity finally arrived in the 72nd minute when a well-worked move by Wits saw Sifiso Hlanti in on goal, but he was unable to beat Thela Ngobeni with his drive towards the far post.

As the game moved into the final 10 minutes of regulation time, the goalmouth action heated up as Daine Klate volleyed over the bar before Moeketsi Sekola skewed a shot wide and then Ben Motshwari came within inches of winning the game in the 93rd minute.

Stars came out an invigorated side in extra time and it took them just two minutes to find the net, the impressive Nyiko Mobbie putting in a perfect ball from the right flank which ended in Sekola burying a header into the top corner.

The 19-year-old Mobbie was again to play a key role in the home side's second goal – just two minutes later, when he found Sekola at the back post, the striker laying the ball into Dlamini’s pass for a relatively simple finish.

More chances followed for Stars but Danny Venter and Thokozani Sekotlong squandered good opportunities.

But Venter made amends when he put the game to bed 10 minutes from time after bursting into the box and finishing smartly into the far.

Klate's brilliant right-footed drive from 25-yards out two minutes from time proved to be no more than consolation.

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