Cape Town - Bidvest Wits emerged from a challenging encounter with Baroka FC with a hard-fought 1-0 win at the Peter Mokaba Stadium to keep their Absa Premiership title hopes alive.
Wits began the game 15 points behind pace-setters Kaizer Chiefs at the top of the standings. However, they are one of the few teams still in with a chance of challenging Amakhosi for the title as they have also played three games fewer than the Soweto giants.
Baroka, on the other hand, are experiencing a completely different challenge. They began the match in 13th place, level on points with AmaZulu in the relegation zone and only three points ahead of Polokwane City in last place.
Both teams were desperate for a win but, more tellingly, were dead set against losing the match. Even then, one point was far more valuable to Baroka at this stage of the season than Wits, and it showed.
Baroka defended their goal tooth and nail, giving the visitors very little space in and around the box and forcing them to shoot from range, which meant there weren't many shots on target throughout the game.
The Clever Boys were also keeping it tight but were able to venture forward more often purely because Baroka seemed to have no interest in leaving their own half.
The match will not be remembered as a classic encounter but it was an enthralling battle against two desperate teams that was excellent to watch.
The defence on both sides are due to particular praise as, even though some might prefer it when there are more shots on goal, the overall lack of chances was a testament to how well they all played.
Wits landed a sucker punch less than 180 seconds after half-time just as Baroka were settling back into their rhythm in the second period.
Deon Hotto hit the back of the net following a well-worked move in the 47th minute.
Baroka were forced to be a bit more attacking after falling behind but this is where the visitors back line shone. They began pressing higher up the pitch and the home side had zero space to manoeuvre.
In the end, Wits came out on top - bloodied and bruised - but with a vital three points that just about keeps them in the hunt for the title while Baroka will be left hoping the teams around them also drop points this weekend.
- TeamTalk Media