Bloemfontein Celtic ended their six-game winless streak in the DStv Premiership by defeating Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 1-0 at Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday evening.
Phunya Sele Sele had to hang tough with 10 men for most of the second half, but were able to see out the game and pick up a first victory since beating Baroka in mid-December 2020, with the result leaving them in 12th on the log and five points clear of the danger zone.
Vhadau Vha Damani, meanwhile, actually moved up to 15th on goal difference but remain in a three-way basement tie alongside Black Leopards and Maritzburg United (who were also beaten on Saturday).
Celtic got off to a flying start and took advantage of some early space behind Tshakhuma’s defence, with Motebang Sera latching onto Lucky Baloyi’s assist and finishing past goalkeeper Washington Arubi to put the hosts 1-0 up in just the second minute of the match.
The early goal boosted Celtic’s confidence and they bossed possession, though further chances were initially hard to come by as TTM settled into the game and got their defence organised.
The visitors even began to offer a threat of their own, with Thabo Rakhale’s dribbling skills and the willing running of Lerato Lamola and Rhulani Manzini keeping Celtic’s backline on their toes.
Tshakhuma created a half-chance midway through the first half when Manzini had a sight of goal from the edge of the box, but his effort did not test Celtic goalkeeper Sipho Chaine.
Phunya Sele Sele came on strong in the latter stages of the first half, as they searched for a second goal to take into the break, though Vhadau Vha Damani held firm in defence to remain just one down at the interval.
Celtic appeared to be in control of the game from the start of the second half, but just past the hour mark they were reduced to 10 men when defender Ronald Pfumbidzai picked up a second caution and was sent for an early shower.
This handed the initiative to Tshakhuma, who used their numerical advantage to boss the game and force Celtic onto the back foot. However, the Bloemfontein side made several canny substitutions to ‘shut up shop’ at the back and hold the visitors at bay.
TTM tried to force a way back into the game from all angles, but were stymied at every turn by a disciplined Celtic defence, protecting goalkeeper Chaine and ensuring he had only a few saves of note to make in denying the likes of Lamola and Celimpilo Ngema.
Celtic will return to DStv Premiership action this coming midweek when they face AmaZulu away, while Tshakhuma’s next league match is away to Maritzburg United on February 12.
Bloemfontein Celtic (1) 1 (Sera 2’)Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 0
Celtic: Chaine, Lingwati, Chabalala, Rikhotso, Pzumbidzai, Fikizolo (Mahashe 79’), Baloyi, Phalane, Luthuli (De Jongh 68’), Tchilimbou (Letsoalo 68’), Sera (Ngobeni 65’)
Tshakhuma: Arubi, Nkili, Theron, Thangwane, Ravhuhali, Rakhale (Malongoane 61’), Timm, Manaka, Ngema (Maphangule 80’), Manzini, Lamola (Mnyamane 83’)© Backpage TXT