Cape Town - Platinum Stars were made to rue their wastefulness as Gift Motupa's penalty saw Baroka to a 1-0 win in the Nedbank Cup round of 32 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Wednesday.
The Limpopo outfit headed into the match in disarray, with assistant coach MacDonald Makhubedu temporarily having taken control of the first team for the suspended Kgoloko Thobejane.
However, they received a Valentine's Day gift from Letsie Koapeng,
who missed a glorious opportunity to put the hosts ahead in the fourth
minute with only the keeper to beat. After controlling Lehlohonolo
Masalesa's aerial pass with his chest, Koapeng stroked the ball straight
into the grateful grasp of Ayanda Dlamini.
Stars controlled most of the opening 45 minutes, although Motupa and Talent Chawapiwa did occasionally cause them problems in defence.
The closest they came to scoring after Koapeng's missed sitter was in the 17th minute when Gerald Phiri forced Dlamini to parry his long-range effort after cutting inside from the right.
Roger de Sa's side were off the hook in the 33rd minute. Chawapiwa initiated an opportunity on the left, cutting the ball back for Lucky Nguzana, but he skied his shot at goal.
The second half got off to a cagey start, but the complexion of the game changed in the 69th minute when Sibusiso Mthethwa stuck a leg out and caught Mpho Kgaswane in the penalty area. Referee Phelelani Ndaba pointed to the spot and Motupa drilled the ensuing penalty into the bottom corner.
However, Ndaba made another crucial decision in the 76th minute when he awarded a second yellow card to Goodman Mosele - seemingly for time-wasting while he received medical attention.
Stars persisted in their efforts to equalise, hitting Baroka with wave after wave of pressure in the last few minutes. However, they were unable to stick the ball in the back of the net.