Baroka FC returned to winning form in the DStv Premiership after defeating hosts Stellenbosch FC 3-2 at the Danie Craven Stadium on Wednesday.
A brace from Evidence Makgopa saw Bakgaga break a five-game winless streak and sit in eighth place on 15 points, while the Maroons are one point further back after suffering a first loss since mid-December.
Stellenbosch enjoyed early dominance but the first true scoring chance went the way of Baroka in the 19th minute. Gerald Phiri Jr saw his effort direct from a free kick well saved by goalkeeper Lee Langeveldt, before a follow-up effort was heroically blocked by Zitha Macheke.
Bakgaga were dealt an injury blow when influential midfielder Goodman Mosele was stretchered off and replaced by Nhlanhla Mgaga just after the half hour mark, while Stellies had their first shot in anger when Nathan Sinkala sent an effort off target from long range.
Baroka claimed the lead late in the first half, with a breakaway effort rounded off by a slick finish from Makgopa in the 40th minute. Stellies would have been disappointed at being caught square in defence after building up pressure in the period before the goal.
A goal down at the break, the Maroons made a double change at the start of the second half by introducing Asavela Mbekile and Ryan Moon to bolster their midfield and attack respectively.
However, it was the Limpopo side which struck next: Kgodiso Monama set up Makgopa to take advantage of some space amidst the Stellies defence before beating Langeveldt to make it 2-0 just past the hour mark and put Baroka in total control.
Stellenbosch re-jigged again a few minutes after the second goal when they sent on Azeemud-Deen Brenner and Stanley Dimgba, but Baroka looked comfortable and confident, evening threatening a third goal through much of what remained in the game.
That goal duly arrived late on, with Phiri Jr striking just before the end of regulation time (from an assist by the excellent Makgopa) to seemingly put the cherry on top of a fine performance from the Limpopo outfit.
In fact, Phiri Jr’s goal proved to be decisive rather than a bonus, as Stellies rallied in added time and scored through Dimgba and a Ryan Noon penalty, though ultimately it was too little, too late from the Cape side as they succumbed 3-2.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming weekend, with Stellenbosch and Baroka at home to Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu respectively on Saturday 23 January.
Stellenbosch FC (0) 2 (Dimgba 90+1’, Moon 90+4’ pen)
Baroka FC (1) 3 (Makgopa 40’ 61’, Phiri Jr 89’)
Stellenbosch: Langeveldt, Macheke, Robertson, Bergman, van Heerden (Mbekile 46’), Sinkala (Brenner 64’), Nange (Moon 46’), Skelem, Adams, van Rooyen (du Preez 75’), Mendieta (Dimbga 64’)
Baroka: Chipezeze, Mphahlele, Makume, Gebhardt, Jampies, Masiya (Monama 50’), Kambala, Mosele (Mgaga 32’), Afonso (Patjie 50’), Phiri Jr, Makgopa