A late goal from Bienvenu Evan Nga sealed a victory for Bidvest Wits when they beat Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) on Sunday afternoon at FNB Stadium.
Against the run of play, the big Cameroonian striker outpaced the Chiefs defence before beating oncoming goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma on his left corner.
The result leaves the Naturena-based club at the top with 53 points from 28 games whilst the Braamfontein outfit occupies third spot with 49 points.
Coach Ernst Middendorp made changes in the starting eleven from the team that started against Mamelodi Sundowns where striker Samir Nurkovic returned from suspension, Kearryn Baccus partnered with Anthony Akumu for Willard Katsande, Lebogang Manyama, and Keletso Sifama whilst Leonardo Castro was ruled out of the clash through injury.
The Clever Boys had Sifiso Hlanti returning to replace Keegan Ritchie, Thabang Monare was a notable absentee and his place was taken by Mpho Mathebula whilst Rowan Human was sacrificed for an experienced Mxolisi Macuphu upfront.
The two PSL giants met for the second time in a month and as early as the second minute, Wits skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo came close to drawing the first blood through a header in the box, yet his attempt sailed inches off goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi’s left corner.
However, it was the Students' keeper Ricardo Goss who was called to produce an acrobatic save to deny Nurkovic from a header on the far post.
Amakhosi dominated the ball possession in the first 15 minutes but they could not penetrate the opposing defence led by Hlatshwayo.
There were few chances heading to the cooling break after 25 minutes but the battle for aerial balls between Nurkovic, Hlatshwayo and Lorenzo Gordinho took centre stage as Kgotso Moleko continued to deliver dangerous crosses.
After the half-hour mark, coach Gavin Hunt’s charges demonstrated good touches building from the back but Terrence Dzvukamanja had his effort comfortably saved by Akpeyi before Hlanti’s clever chip was punched away by the Nigerian.
Chiefs would appeal for a penalty in the 39th minute when Reeve Frosler looked to be fouled by Hlatshwayo in the box, but the protest fell on referee Victor Hlungwani’s deaf ears.
On the stroke of half-time, the log leaders suffered a massive blow when Akpeyi collided with Macuphu, the West African keeper suffered a concussion and he was replaced by Bvuma.
The first test for Bvuma came from Deon Hotto’s dipping free-kick in injury time and the Bafana Bafana keeper punched the set-piece over the crossbar for a corner.
There were no goals at the interval and Goss was equal to the task to easily collect Nurkovic’s header as the Soweto club enjoyed a bright restart.
In the 57th minute, Moleko wasted a glorious opportunity to grab the lead for the visitors with only goalkeeper Goss to beat, the defender ballooned his effort over the bar.
With 20 minutes to go, Middendorp turned to the experienced Katsande who came on for Baccus, the change made an immediate impact when Akumu’s shot was converted by Nurkovic but the lanky striker was in an offside position.
Chiefs upped the ante as far as their attack was concerned, and Frosler also came close to beating Goss with a low shot on the left corner after a brilliant pass for substitute Katsande in the 80th minute.
Following immense pressure, Gordinho was forced to go back to his keeper two minutes later and the header was saved by Goss as it was sailing into the net for an own goal.
Right on the 89th minute, Nurkovic could not believe his miss when what should have been an easy tap in, went over on the near post from a wonderful delivery into the box.
In injury time, substitute Eva Nga broke the Glamour Boys’ hearts against the run of play when he beat an off-side trap to slot the ball into the net, beating Bvuma on the left corner as they clinched all three points.