Bloemfontein Celtic beat Ajax Cape Town 2-1 at Free State Stadium on Sunday afternoon in a game of two halves.
Ajax Cape Town went into the game with confidence following their classy display against Platinum Stars; however the Cape Town side has traditionally struggled against Bloemfontein Celtic. This looked to continue, as despite a good first half the Urban Warriors tired and lost the game.
The game was played on a damaged Free State Stadium pitch, which hosted a Currie Cup rugby match the evening before. This seemed to affect the speed of the game as both teams struggled with the bumpy conditions.
Around five thousand Siwelele fans were in strong voice throughout the match, urging on their troops during the contest.
The Urban Warriors started the game strongly with around sixty percent possession, looking comfortable on the ball and passing well. However they struggled to create clear cut chances until a piece of brilliance by Granwald Scott put them into the lead.
Ajax striker Brendan Grobler had an excellent chance as he latched on to a good ball and fired a right foot shot towards the goal in the 12th minute. Siwelele goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb was up for the task and kept the ball out of his net with a one-handed dive to his right.
Bloemfotein Celtic started finding their feet and were able to keep the Urban Warriors at bay. Chances were few and far between following Ajax Cape Town’s opening burst of pressure. Siwelele defended well and were able to keep the dangerous Khama Billiat under control, as well as beginning to look dangerous around the goal mouth.
However they could not stop Granwald Scott’s superb volley in the 44th minute. The talented Ajax Cape Town midfielder attacked a high looping clearance with a powerful and well-placed volley which Patrick Tignyemb had no chance of saving.
The goalkeeper looked bemused as the ball flew past him and nestled into the left corner of his net. The opener was well deserved, as the Cape Town side had controlled the majority of the first half.
The Bloemfontein Celtic team talk would have been drastically altered by the late goal and they started the second half looking to equalise in front of their passionate home fans. They began to open up their game, looking far more aggressive and attacking. Their hunger for the equaliser paid off in the 53rd minute.
A rather comical mistake made up by Ajax goalkeeper Sean Roberts brought Siwelele back into the match. Roberts came to collect a long ball sent into the box and slipped. The ball sailed over his reach and hit the top bar falling nicely into the path of prolific Bloemfontein Celtic striker Lennox Bacela. Celtic was back in the game.
Ajax looked to go back into the lead immediately with shots from Khama Billiat and Paul Rusike coming close. Celtic also looked to exploit a tiring Ajax defence, creating dangerous opportunities. Pressure breeds chances and Celtic began to pile it on the Urban Warriors defence.
A controversial penalty decision in the 70th minute left Lennox Bacela in complete disgust with the referee’s interpretation of the play. Bacela was brought down under heavy contact inside the box, but the referee saw it differently, yellow carding the striker.
Lerato Manzini kept Bacela’s dismay short as he received a past from the striker in the 73rd minute, pushed it into space past an Ajax defender and shot the ball under the legs of Roberts completing the keeper’s rather poor showing.
The goal showed Manzini’s class and game-breaking potential Celtic was in the lead and had performed a complete turnaround from their dismal first half performance.
The result leaves Ajax on four points while Bloemfontein Celtic overtakes them on the log with six points. Maarten Stekelenburg will be left worried after his team did not show up for the second half of the game. On the other hand Clinton Larsen will be delighted with his teams come back and fighting spirit.