Ayanda Dlamini scored late on to give AmaZulu a 2-1 victory over Platinum Stars in their Telkom Knockout first round clash at a wet Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Thuso Phala had given Dikwena the lead, before Enocent Mkhabela scored an unfortunate own goal. But Dlamini popped up late on to seal the win and just a second victory of the season for Usuthu.
The first chance of the game fell to the home side as Dlamini was sent through on goal, but Stars goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane raced off his line to save well as the striker’s feet, the ball deflecting away off his face.
Mthembu had a good chance at the other end when he was set up by Ng’ambi, but his volley was blocked by the Usuthu defence. From the resultant corner, Ng’ambi poked just wide as he and Mthembu got in each other’s way.
Dlamini had another fine chance, this time bursting towards the six-yard box but he was unable to get any power into his shot and it was saved.
Phala should have done better when he broke away with the ball. As the Usuthu defence back-tracked, he had teammates either side of him, but opted to go it alone and was tackled.
The best chance of the half fell to AmaZulu striker Mkhokheli Dube, who managed to round Mpontshane, but with the goal gaping he overbalanced and could not get his shot away.
Ng’ambi had the final chance of the half for Stars, his effort from the edge of the area lacking power and easily collected by Philani Zikalala in the home goal.
Stars started the second half much the better side and might have been in front when Joseph Molangoane did brilliantly to beat one defender, but then tried an audacious chip over Zikalala which the keeper was easily able to gather. He might have been better off shooting.
But Dikwena did manage the opening goal just minutes later. Great interplay between Vuyo Mere and Molangoane sees the former cross to the back post, where Ng’ambi heads down for Phala to crash the ball home.
It might have been 2-0 when Molangoane found space on the left-hand side of the box, but Zikalala saved well on the angle.
Stars were holding out well until they conceded an equalizer on 75 minutes. Mkhabela, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of seconds turned the ball into his own net after Thokozani Mshengu’s shot was beaten into his path by Mpontshane.
Usuthu had an excellent opportunity take the lead when Bongani Mbhele broke into the box and with not a defender in sight he took a wild swing with his left boot and the ball sliced wide of goal.
They got the goal they craved though when Dlamini broke into the box again and this time placed his shot calmly passed the exposed Mpontshane.