- Swallows added to Richards Bays’ woes on Friday
- The Dube Birds ended their three-match winless run
- Result gives hope to Chiefs & Pirates over second place
WHAT HAPPENED? Swallows broke Richards Bays’ hearts nine minutes from time when Kagiso Malinga converted from Lindokuhle Mtishali’s pass encounter and held on for the win which eased their relegation worries.
Ernst Middendorp gave a debut to new signing David Uromi, the Tanzanian selected among the starting XI, while the other January acquisition Bongani Sam started on the bench.
The Dube Birds frustrated the visitors in the first half and continued their resolute defensive display after the break before Malinga popped up with the decisive goal when it had looked like the game was headed for a goalless draw.
The victory saw Swallows move to 12th on the table on 21 points, level with Royal AM and Marumo Gallants, while 15th-placed Stellenbosch are just one behind.
The result had huge ramifications at the top end of the table as Richards Bay remained second on 31 points, two ahead of SuperSport United in third, while Swallows also did a great favour to their Soweto rivals and Chiefs and Pirates.
Pirates can go level with victory against leaders Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday while Amakhosi can move to within a point if they defeat TS Galaxy on Sunday as the race for the final Caf Champions League spot hots up.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The scramble for second place is a crowded one with AmaZulu, Sekhukhune United and Chippa United, all on 24 points, also capable of closing in.
Richards Bay have seen their big advantage wiped away in the last three matches when they drew twice and lost once to allow both Pirates and Chiefs an opportunity.
With Sundowns running away with the title, the Soweto giants have pinned their hopes on a second-place finish which will guarantee them a return to the Champions League after missing out on continental football altogether this season.
WHAT’S NEXT? Swallows will now switch their focus to the Nedbank Cup where they face Stellenbosch on February 11 while Richards Bay have a date with Sundowns in the same competition four days earlier.