Ten-man Royal AM reclaimed second place in the DStv Premiership thanks to a smash-and-grab 1-0 win over Swallows at Chatsworth Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
John Maduka’s side looked destined to hang on for a draw following the 77th-minute dismissal of Zukile Mkhize, but Elias Pelembe stepped off the bench to score a dramatic winner in the dying embers of the match.
The Dube Birds can count themselves unfortunate not to claim at least a point on the day after they created the majority of the chances, only to suffer an agonising defeat which has left them one point clear of the bottom two in 14th spot.
Thwihli Thwahla enjoyed more possession in the first half, but it was Swallows who made better use of the ball and they carved out an opportunity after just seven minutes.
Kamohelo Mahlatsi fed Khetukuthula Ndlovu on the right and the winger forced Patrick Nyame into a good save from inside the box.
The hosts would get their one sniff at goal six minutes later when Ricardo Nascimento connected with Lantshene Phalane’s cross and drew a save out of Thela Ngobeni with his header.
The Dube Birds had another three attempts at goal before the break without testing Nyame. Givemore Khupe fired well wide of the right post from range on 16 minutes and Mwape Musonda steered a header to the left of the target from a 28th-minute corner.
The final chance of the half saw Kamohelo Mahlatsi drag an effort wide of the left post from outside the area in the 42nd minute.
There was a flurry of action at the start of the second half, with Mahlatsi again failing to hit the target from inside the box on 47 minutes before Kabelo Mahlasela skied a shot from distance moments later at the other end.
Given Mashikinya then dragged an effort wide at the near post from an acute angle on the left in the 51st minute following a corner, while Musonda couldn’t keep his shot down from Dillon Solomons’ cross on 53 minutes.
Solomons gave Nyame some work to do in the 57th minute with a strike from range that the home keeper dealt with. Monnapule Saleng wasn’t too far away from opening the scoring 11 minutes later from a free-kick on the right that curled just wide of the near post.
Moments after substitute Mfundo Thikazi threatened to break the deadlock at the other end with a shot from range that was well saved by Ngobeni, Royal AM suffered a setback in the 77th minute when Mkhize was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Matlala Makgalwa.
However, Victor Letsoalo almost gave the 10 men the lead three minutes later, although he was unable to beat Ngobeni from inside the area on the left.
Ndlovu wasted a glorious chance to clinch victory for Swallows in stoppage time when he directed a header wide of the right post from close range and they were made to pay for that miss as Pelembe fired past Ngobeni from inside the area at the death after being picked out by Thabo Matlaba.
Royal AM (0) 1 (Pelembe 90+5′)
Royal AM: P. Nyame, L. Manganyi, L. Phalane, R. Nascimento (W. Mabuza 78′), Z. Mkhize, K. Mahlasela (J. Ncobeni 81′), G. Mashikinya (E. Pelembe), T. Matlaba, T. Potsane (M. Thikazi 56′), V. Letsoalo, M. Macuphu (T. Monamodi 81′).
Swallows: T. Ngobeni, D. Solomons, W. Letlabika, Y. Sasman, F. Basadien, K. Mahlatsi (T. Ntshumayelo 69′), G. Khupe (K. Mohamme 87′), L. Mokoena (G. Margeman 69′), K. Ndlovu, M. Saleng (M. Makgalwa 74′), M. Musonda (K. Malinga 74′). ©Backpage TXT