Free State Stars produced one of the surprise performances of the season with a memorable 3-1 victory over league leaders Bidvest WIts at Goble Park on Wednesday evening.
The Students attempted to stamp their authority on the game early on, but Stars did well to stem the tide in the opening stages of the first half.
Wits had a chance in the eighth minute when Phakamani Mahlambi hit a snap-shot that went just wide of the target, although they weren’t having much luck in the final third.
Stars’ tireless efforts paid off midway through the first half as they hit the Students on the counter, with Makhehlene Makhaula advancing on goal and unleashing a powerful shot from 20 yards out that flew past Moeneeb Josephs to break the deadlock on 24 minutes.
The visitors almost found an immediate response as Cuthbert Malajila steered a header just wide of the near post from a cross on the right a minute later.
Serame Letsoaka’s men held onto their one-goal lead at the break, and Thokozani Sekotlong threatened to make it 2-0 five minutes into the second half with a free-kick that he curled inches wide of the right post.
Mahlambi was further away with his set-piece for Wits two minutes later that cleared the crossbar, while Maliele Pule saw his cross from the left drift onto the right post in the 59th minute.
As Stars had done in the first half, they weathered the storm to double their lead on 65 minutes, with Mohammed Anas firing past Josephs.
Cuthbert Malajila managed to pull one back for the Clever Boys 12 minutes later, but they suffered a setback four minutes later when substitute Sifiso Myeni was shown a straight red card.
Sinethemba Jantjie rubbed salt into their wounds at the death with a third goal to seal a comfortable win for Ea Lla Koto to ease their relegation fears and continue their incredible unbeaten run at home to Gavin Hunt’s side – which stretches over two seasons.