Free State Stars held off a late fightback from Golden Arrows to secure a 2-1 win in their Premiership clash at Goble Park on Wednesday.
The first half was evenly balanced with each team having their periods of dominance and managing to fashion some openings. Ea Lla Koto scored twice in 15 minutes after the interval but were forced into some resolute defending for the remainder of the game as Arrows came back fighting.
The visitors made a bright start and enjoyed the first chance of the match when Siphelele Magubane went wide with a seventh-minute free-kick.
Stars went on to gain the upper hand and had a couple of sniffs at goal, without troubling visiting keeper Nkosingiphile Gumede.
Arrows had more chances as the clock moved past the 30-minute mark, but Magubane missed the target after a nice build-up before Thabo Molefe fired wide three minutes before half-time.
Stars striker Mohammed Anas had the final opportunity of the opening stanza but was also wayward with his shot at goal.
Ea Lla Koto were on the front foot immediately after the break and it was no surprise when they took the lead four minutes in, Goodman Dlamini prodding the ball in after Anas set him up.
Their advantage was doubled 10 minutes later when Sinethemba Jantjie scored from a free-kick, only for the two-goal cushion to be halved within a minute after Zolani Nkombelo won the ball and played in Magubane to score.
Lionel Mutizwa then went close with a free-kick as Abafana bes’Thende upped the ante in search of an equaliser.
But Luc Eymael’s side showed good determination to keep their goal intact as they made it through to the final whistle for all three points.