Dominant second half effort raises Ajax out of drop zone
CAPE TOWN – Ajax Cape Town are out of the drop zone after beating Platinum Stars 3-1 (0-1 halftime) at the Cape Town Stadium on Friday evening.
The Urban Warriors moved from last place to 13th on the table after bagging their fourth win of the season, doing so as if their lives depended on the outcome.
They fully deserved the victory and the three points thanks to a dominant second-half performance.
For their coach Muhsin Ertugral, a first win from three starts will have brought a smile to his face after a rough ride for the club over the past week. Just maybe the start of a winning run that will see the Parow side move well away from the danger zone.
The opening half was dominated by the North West Province visitors, with a number of half-chances going their way, the first few not troubling the home side’s goalkeeper Brandon Petersen. But the Ajax shot-stopper was forced into tipping the ball over the crossbar to keep out defender Vujo Mere’s powerful shot heading for the top centre netting.
Ajax were hardly threatening and once again failed to make any headway going forward.
The Urban Warriors had to wait until the 25th minute for their first chance taken by midfielder Fagrie Lakay (substituted at half-time), but his header, while on target from just outside the small box, lacked any pace to trouble keeper Dino Visser.
Ajax new signing Tendai Ndoro made his debut as the lone striker and, after a quite start and without much ball coming his way, two chances in double quick time that had the home faithful on their feet and roaring him on. But the 32-year-old Zimbabwean international could not make it count, his first effort lacking bite and going straight into the keeper’s gloves and then ,with time on his side, a scuffed grass-cutter that went wide of the target.
Stars would make the breakthrough five minutes from half-time when striker Zama Rambuwane was given time and space to let rip with a header from close range that left Petersen with no chance.
Dikwena kept their lead going into the break.
Ertugral must have dished out some stern words to his charges for Ajax started the second half as if they meant business. They were now gaining ground deep into enemy territory in numbers and looking menacing down both flanks.
Stars were now in retreat mode and under severe pressure in the face of the onslaught.
So no surprise when Ajax, now spurred on by their now much more nosier supporters and aided by the band on hand, drew level in the 73rd minute through midfielder Tercious Malepe who was in the right place at the right time to mop up from close range, this after an attempted defensive clearance fell his way.
Ajax were in total command of proceedings and 2-1 when midfielder Tashreeq Morris buried a first-time effort past a hapless Visser. A fully deserved lead with less than 10 minutes left on the clock.
Stars, in all green, were now staring down the barrel and needing to rediscover the form of the first 45 minutes to have any chance of netting a share of the points.
But Ajax, who were desperate for the win that would move them out of the danger zone for the foreseeable future, were not to be denied their fourth win of the campaign when Ndoro rifled a shot into the back of the net a minute into four minutes of additional referee’s time.