Free State Stars were denied a point late in the game by Highlands Park, in a 1-0 defeat during their Premiership clash at Goble Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Lions of the North started the game with purpose and had Stars on the back foot and pinned into their own territory during the opening stages, but Serame Letsoaka’s side defended valiantly in the crucial relegation six-pointer.
Their first clear opportunity arrived in the 18th minute when some sloppy defence resulted in Charlton Mashumba receiving the ball in front of goal just 16-yards out, but he took too long to pull the trigger and his effort was blocked by Thamsanqa Teyise.
A superb half-volley from outside the box from Brandon Theron looked set to break the deadlock in the 28th minute, but the ball crashed off the crossbar and back into play.
There was another chance for Theron two minutes into first half added time when he found himself clean in on goal on the right hand side of the box, but Ea Lla Koto goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi did well to make the block.
Stars nearly took the lead against the run of play in the 73rd minute when Sinethemba Jantjie showed a clean pair of heels down the left before pulling the ball back for Mohamed Anas, who reacted well to get in a shot, but saw his effort coming back off the woodwork.
The match seemed set for a stalemate, but Mvala had other ideas as he ran in to head home a long throw-in two minutes before the end of regulation time.
Despite the loss, Free State Stars remain a point above Gordon Igesund’s side, who occupy the relegation play-off spot in 17th.