Stars dent Sundowns' title hopes
Platinum Stars pulled off their biggest win of a rapidly improving season when they defeated Absa Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns 2-1 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday night.
The home side might have expected to brush aside Dikwena on the night, but the visitors are made of sterner stuff under co-coaches Cavin Johnson and Allan Freese and have now won four away games in a row in the League.
Their goals came via the in-form Patrick Malokase and youngster Sibusiso Msomi, while Teko Modise had equalised for the Brazilians.
Sundowns went into the game on a 14 match unbeaten run in all competitions, but six draws in their last eight Absa Premiership matches has allowed the chasing pack to close in.
Dikwena were on a good run of league form themselves, their only defeat in seven coming in their previous game against Kaizer Chiefs.
Sundowns were also attempting to end a barren home run that had seen them winless in their own backyard since a 1-0 success over Maritzburg United all the way back in November.
Having played out a goalless draw in Rustenburg earlier in the campaign, the suggestion was that this would be another tight contest between two teams who have been vastly improved defensively, but have at times lacked a cutting edge.
Both sides had to shuffle their backlines though; centre-back Clayton Daniels was missing through suspension for Sundowns, while the defensive duo of Vuyo Mere and Thabiso Semenya suffered the same fate for Stars.
The home side were almost ahead inside six minutes; the lively Lebogang Mokoena crashing in a shot that flashed just inches wide of Stars goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane.
The visitors were the ones to strike first though, slightly against the run of play, as in-form Malokase beat the offside trap and produced a delightful chip to beat Calvin Marlin in the Sundowns goal.
It was a fourth goal in as many games for the Orlando Pirates loanee, who is turning out to be the best piece of business done in the January transfer window.
The pressure from Sundowns was incessant though and although Stars kept them at bay almost to the half-hour mark, they did finally find a way through, Modise scoring from close-range after a fine ball from Punch Masenamela.
But the visitors were back in front on 57 minutes when exciting prospect Msomi crashed the ball home from 30-yards for a fine individual effort that left Marlin flailing.
Try as they might the home side could not force an equaliser and it was a deserving victory for the visitors, whose quest for a top-eight place this season is gathering pace.
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Modise 28’)
Platinum Stars (1) 2 (Malokase 18’, Msomi 57’)
Sundowns: Marlin, Mampuru (Maponyane 46’), Xulu, Mwanjali, Masenamela, Nyandoro, Moriri (Henyekane 76’), Mokoena, Modise, Mushekwi, Pelembe
Stars: Mpontshane, Sambu, Moloto, Nkosi (Thwala 72’), Ngwepe, Phala, Nyauza, Msomi, Malokase Mbatha (Ramolesa 70’), Chiukepo (Ng’ambi 45’)