Wits back in the title mix after win over Black Leopards

Bidvest Wits' strikers Deon Hotto (R) and Gift Motupa (L) celebrate a goal during a 3-1 Absa Premiership win at home against Black Leopards at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on April 24 2019.
Bidvest Wits' strikers Deon Hotto (R) and Gift Motupa (L) celebrate a goal during a 3-1 Absa Premiership win at home against Black Leopards at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on April 24 2019.
Image: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Bidvest Wits brought themselves back into the Absa Premiership contention on Wednesday night when they beat Black Leopards 3-1 in a match that had no less than three penalties in the opening half.

With this win, their 14th of the season, the third-placed Wits are six points off the log leaders Orlando Pirates with three games remaining. 

The Clever Boys' title chances were, however, not fully boosted by their victory as their rivals Bucs, who have played one match more, beat relegation fighting Maritzburg United 1-0 in Pietermaritzburg last night.

Referee Cedric Muvhali played a central role in the first 45 minutes of this encounter, dishing out two penalties to the visitors Leopards and one to the Clever Boys.

Leopards should have taken the lead as early as the 22nd minute when Wits defender Buhle Mkhwanazi was judged to have fouled Ivan Mahangwahaya inside the box.

The league’s leading scorer with 13 goals, Mwape Musonda stepped up to take the spot kick but skied his shot way above Ricardo Goss in Wits' goals. 

Wits had a penalty of their own in the 28th minute, this time referee Muvhali punishing Leopards keeper King Ndlovu for colliding with Wits striker Simon Murray in what looked like a dicey call.

Murray dusted himself off to open the scoring before Deon Hotto doubled the lead for Gavin Hunt’s team two minutes later, heading in his fifth goal of the season from a Thulani Hlatshwayo cross from the right flank.

Muvhali was not finished with his generosity towards Leopards as he awarded them another penalty in the 38th minute after Hotto clumsily tackled Karabo Tshepe inside the area.

This time Musonda made no mistake, thundering in his 14th goal of the season with a powerful shot which kissed the roof of the net.

Elias Pelembe wrapped Wits’ win in the 72nd minute when he beat Ndlovu with a low shot in what was a second half that was less exciting and dramatic than the first stanza.

In their attempt to win their second league title in three seasons, Wits have been mainly hampered by their poor run at home, with only 17 points collected in the previous 13 matches before the Wednesday night game.

For Leopards, this defeat which was a second against Wits in the league this season, means their struggle to survive continues in their last four matches starting with a home encounter against fellow strugglers Maritzburg in Thohoyandou on Saturday.

Wits visit SuperSport United, who were gunned down 2-0 at AmaZulu also on Wednesday, at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.

Other Absa Premiership midweek results:

Tuesday April 23, 2019:

Kaizer Chiefs 1 - 1 Lamontville Golden Arrowns 

Cape Town City 1 - 1 Highlands Park 

Mamelodi Sundowns 3 - 2 Chippa United 

Wednesday April 24, 2019:

Maritzburg United  0 - 1 Orlando Pirates

Free State Stars 2 - 2 Baroka FC 

AmaZulu 2 - 0 SuperSport United 

Polokwane City 1 - 2 Bloemfontein Celtic 

Bidvest Wits 3 - 1 Black Leopards 

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