A determined Chippa United was unlucky to lose against Chiefs following a controversial red card for Buyani Sali
A full house at the Athlone Stadium had to wait 58 minutes for Kaizer Motaung Jr. to score the first goal of the game, after Buyani Sali was given his marching orders in controversial fashion.
Chiefs struggled to find a cushion goal against a steely Chilli Boys until Kingston Nkatha netted an easy tap in from close range with three minutes left in the match.
It was a top versus bottom clash which both sides needed to win, as Chiefs aimed to stay on top of the league before meeting Orlando Pirates on Saturday while Chippa was desperate for points to help their survival bid.
Chiefs dominated the early proceedings in front of a noisy Athlone crowd, putting a fragile Chippa United defence to the sword.
But it was the Chilli Boys who created the first opportunity of the match, with Stanton Lewis latching onto a low cross and sending a curling effort whistling over Khune’s crossbar with eighteen minutes on the clock.
Stuart Baxter was forced into making an early substitution as Matthew Rusike pulled up with a groin injury, with Kaizer Motaung Jnr. earning a rare appearance this season.
Chiefs was guilty on numerous occasions of overpassing the ball as the first half continued, with the league leaders unable to find any joy in the final third.
An enterprising run from Masibusane Zongo gave Chippa another opportunity to score in the dying embers of the first half, but the midfielder’s low shot was too weak to trouble Ithumeleng Khune in goal. Buyani Sali also came close but could not find the proper contact with a header as Chippa went into the break with their heads held high.
Chippa began the second half intent on finding the opener, but lacked composure in the final third as Chiefs saw off waves after wave of Chili Boy pressure with ease.
With fifty-three minutes on the clock Buyani Sali was awarded a dubious straight red after a crunching tackle on Willard Katsande, meaning Wilfred Mugeyi’s men needed to focus on surviving Chiefs’ onslaught for over half an hour.
But the Chilli Boys could not stave off a goal for Kaizer Motaung Jr, who headed home from close range after a Morgan Gould long-throw was nodded into the striker’s path, merely seven minutes after Sali’s departure.
Chippa United had to chase the game and introduced their latest signing Benjani Mwaruwari as an attempt to steal an unlikely point.
But despite Chippa’s brave attempts to find an equaliser, Chiefs was able to close out a hard fought win after Kingston Nkatha scored the decisive goal with an easy finish from close range in the 87th minute. The AmaKhosi remain top of the table before the vital Soweto Derby on Saturday afternoon, as Chippa's fight for survival begins to look dire.