Black Leopards boost survival hopes with win over Kaizer Chiefs
Bottom-of-the-table dealt top-eight hopes a damaging blow on Wednesday as Tiklas Thutlwa’s double helped the hosts to a 2-1 victory at Thohoyandou Stadium.
Chiefs looked to be well placed for victory after Leonardo’s Castro early goal in the first half, but Leopards drew level in the dying moments of the first half before striking again in the 64th minute.
The first chance of note fell to Leopards’ Thutlwa in the ninth minute, but he could not make it count, dragging a right-footed shot wide of the left post from outside the box.
And Chiefs would go on to claim the lead just one minute later as Leonardo Castro pounced to fire into an unguarded net after the initial shot by Happy Mashiane was kept out by Leopards keeper Jonas Mendes.
Leopards hit back a couple of minutes later with another goalscoring chance, but Chiefs keeper Bruce Bvuma was equal to the task, saving Tumelo Khutlang’s goal-bound shot in the top-left corner.
Castro had a great opportunity to add a second goal in the 21st minute but failed to hit the target on this occasion, firing high and wide from the centre of the danger area.
However, Leopards remained a big threat and after going close through efforts from Ovidy Karuru, Edwin Gyimah and Sanele Mathenjwa, they finally got the breakthrough they were looking for on the stroke of half-time.
Thutlwa bagged the all-important goal as he tapped home at the back post after a pinpoint cross by Tsheamo Mashoene.
There was plenty more goalmouth action to come after the interval as both teams managed to fashion a couple of good chances early on.
For Chiefs, Castro was denied a second goal by Mendes on 51 minutes, while the keeper produced another crucial save on the hour mark, denying Bernard Parker’s speculative effort from range.
Leopards, meanwhile, saw Wiseman Maluleke and Thutlwa go close before the latter eventually notched his second goal of the day in the 64th minute, the midfielder heading home from close range after being teed up by Tebogo Makobela.
Amakhosi redoubled their efforts after falling behind, but they found it tough going against an obstinate defence, with Ngcobo and Castro both seeing shots on goal blocked by the home side’s defence.
With time running out, Eric Mathoho fired over from the centre of the box before Ngcobo saw a later attempt from outside the box blocked by the Leopards defence.
Despite throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Leopards defence in the last few minutes, Chiefs were unable to find a way through as Leopards somehow managed to hold firm and claim an impressive win.