TS Galaxy kept up their great form in the DStv Premiership with a 3-1 win over Black Leopards at the Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday evening.
The Rockets have now put together an eight-game unbeaten run which has pushed them into seventh place the log and brought guaranteed top-flight survival within touching distance. Lidoda Duvha, meanwhile, could only wish for such comfort in their log position: a 13th defeat of the season leaves them marooned in last place.
Leopards started confidently and had the first shot in anger, with Sibongiseni Mthethwa having a go from long range in the 10th minute, but Galaxy goalkeeper Marlon Heugh made a comfortable save.
On 21 minutes Galaxy claimed the lead, with Bathusi Aubaas and Wayde Lekay combining beautifully to force an own goal from visiting defender Tebogo Makobela, who was most unfortunate to direct an unwitting effort beyond his goalkeeper King Ndlovu.
Leopards looked for an immediate reply through Lifa Hlongwane, but his grass-cutter flashed wide of the target midway through the first half.
On the 30-minute mark the Rockets cut open the Leopards defence with a great passing move, culminating in Lindokuhle Mbatha teeing up Mlungisi Mbunjana, but the midfielder struck his effort just over the crossbar.
Five minutes later Lekay must have thought he had scored when his perfectly-timed header from Mbatha’s cross arrowed toward the back of the net, but Ndlovu made an excellent save to keep the score at 1-0.
Yet Galaxy were not to be denied a second goal, with Marks Munyai providing a fine finish from Mbatha’s assist in the 44th minute, ensuring that the home side went into the half-time break with a deserved 2-0 lead.
The hosts kept up their intensity and had early chances in the second half, with Aubaas and Mxolisi Machupu shooting off target, before Lekay rattled the woodwork, with a third goal looking inevitable.
It duly arrived just before the hour mark, with substitute Masilake Phohlongo firing home in impressive style to put the Rockets in complete control of the match.
However, Leopards pulled one back through a substitute of their own, with Themba Ndlovu scoring within a minute of replacing Rodney Ramagalela midway through the second half.
It wasn’t the start of a comeback for the away side, who were unable to create further pressure, allowing the Rockets to rack up their sixth win of the season.
Galaxy are scheduled to return to DStv Premiership action on March 20 when they host Maritzburg United, while Leopards will be in action the following day away to Mamelodi Sundowns.
TS Galaxy (2) 3 (Makobela og 21’, Munyai 44’, Phohlongo 59’)
Black Leopards (0) 1 (Ndlovu 68’)
GALAXY: Heugh, Msimango, Mahlangu, Fransman, Munyai, Matlala (Phohlongo 55’), Aubaas (Modisane 86’), Mbunjana, Mbatha (Figuareido 67’), Machupu, Lekay (Sanoka 86’)
LEOPARDS: K. Ndlovu, Makobela, Gyimah, Matsimbi, Khumalo, Makgetlwa, Mthethwa, Thutlwa, Ramagalela (Ndlovu 67’), Hlongwane, Anas