Black Leopards take early lead with win over Platinum Stars in PSL/NFD play-offs

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The Rustenburg-based side will have to up their game in the next few matches having lost their opening encounter away to Leopards

Platinum Stars suffered a narrow 1-0 loss at the hands of Black Leopards in the opening match of the promotion/relegation play-offs on Wednesday afternoon. 

Phathutshedzo Nange scored the only goal of the game to hand the Thohoyandou-based an early advantage in the race for a spot in the Premier Soccer League.

While the defeat would come as a major blow for Dikwena who were handed a lifeline by the South African Football Association's decision to dock Ajax Cape Town seven points, they would blame it on their lack of preparation for this match.

The play-offs were also marred by Ajax's decision to appeal Safa's ruling, going to court to try and stop the games from taking place. 

However, with less than 90 minutes before kick-off, their application for an urgent interdict into the play-offs was dismissed at the South Gauteng High Court. 

The Urban Warriors now have less than 21 days to approach Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to try and intervene on the matter which involves Tendai Ndoro's eligibility. 

Back to the match itself, Leopards fans came out in their numbers to rally behind the team as this has been the case in previous seasons at this stage of the season.

Their presence somewhat intimidated Dikwena, who looked lethargic at times, especially upfront where they have not been sharp enough throughout the campaign. 

Both teams started brightly in the first half, and Leopards were fortunate not have a penalty awarded against them when Marks Munyai appeared to have brought Enocent Mkhabela down inside the box, only for the referee to order the veteran defender to dust himself up. 

The start of the second half belonged to Leopards, and they got the breakthrough after some great work by Joseph Mhlongo whose cross from the left-hand side set up Nange to make it 1-0 with a cool finish. 

It was clear at this stage that Dikwena would need a miracle to restore parity as the home side kept probing and therefore keeping them under immense pressure. 

A change of formation by Roger de Sa saw Platinum Stars play with three at the back in an attempt to at least salvage a point away from home. 

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The move nearly paid off three minutes from time when Letsie Koapeng found the back of the net.

However, the offside flag had already gone up against the former Orlando Pirates attacker even before the ball kissed the back of the net, much to the frustration of the visitors' bench. 

The game ended 1-0 in favour of Leopards, who head into Sunday's encounter against Jomo Cosmos with three points already in the bag.  

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