Free State Stars were largely full value for their 1-0 victory over SuperSport United on Wednesday, despite going down to 10 men in the second half.
Matsatsantsa started well and kept the hosts pressed into their own half for the majority of the opening 20 minutes.
Thuso Phala was proving lively as he helped his team win a number of corners from the right-hand side. He then delivered a few inviting crosses into the box although Stars’ defence was able to clear without too much danger.
Ea Lla Koto were threatening on occasional counters but lacked any real cutting edge in the final third despite the industry of Siphelele Mthembu up front.
For the visitors, Richard Boateng was bombing forward on the left flank although the final ball to him was lacking with Teboho Mokoena and Thato Mokeke culpable on a number of occasions.
Nonetheless, against the run of play Stars hit the front with the best move of the game up to that point. Phungwayo played a smart one-two and burst in behind SuperSport’s defence down the left, before sending in a superb cross which a composed Mthembu slotted home at the far post in the 25th minute.
Moments later it was nearly 2-0 as Goodman Dlamini curled in a right-footed strike from the edge of the area which a diving Reyaad Pieterse clawed away to his left past the post.
It appeared the visitors were rattled and it was Sinethemba Jantjie who had a chance to make it 2-0 on the half-hour mark. After a good ball sprung him free down the right, he fired a shot just wide of the far post.
Matsatsantsa were feeling the pressure and goalkeeper coach Andre Arendse was sent to the dressing room for protestations against a decision.
The prolific Brockie barely got a touch in the opening stanza as the supply to him in the final third was limited. Just before the break, Stars had a great chance to make it 2-0 when Sibusiso Hlubi curled in an excellent cross from the left and the lively Mthembu saw his diving header brilliantly parried away from close range by Pieterse.
After the interval, the game became tighter as both clubs offered very little in attack, though Jantjie did get a strike away in the 54th minute but it went wide. Reneilwe Letsholonyane’s introduction as a substitute did help the visitors as the veteran helped them maintain possession for longer periods in midfield.
Brockie missed United’s best chance of the half in the 65th minute when Phala’s pull-back from the right was sent in his direction in space, but he completely missed the ball when anything on target may have gone in. Drama took place two minutes later as Phungwayo rightly saw red for a dangerous lunging foul on substitute Myeni.
With Eric Tinkler’s side pushing numbers forward in the search for an equaliser, Stars caught them on the break when Tebogo Potsane broke free down the right and he found Jantjie. Yet, the forward curled his strike over the bar with just Pieterse to beat.
In the 83rd minute Badra Sangare denied Myeni when he broke behind the defence and got on the end of Letsholonyane’s exquisite pass, but his touch on the stretch was turned away.
At the death, Bradley Grobler volleyed just wide from on the six-yard box from Brockie’s flick, however, the three points went to Stars in Bethlehem.