Sibongiseni Gumbi
Football Writer
3 minute read
9 Apr 2018
5:20 pm

NFD wrap: Highlands back in top flight, fight for play-offs heats up

Sibongiseni Gumbi

With Highlands Park having already secured the automatic promotion to the Absa Premiership, the race for the two play-offs positions is bound to heat up even more.

Owen Da Gama, coach of Highlands Park, celebrates with the Team during the National First Division match between Highlands Park and University of Pretoria at Makhulong Stadium. (Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix)

Nine teams still have a mathematical chance but four have a more real chance of fighting for it.

And based on recent form, it looks like the battle for the two spots will be between Black Leopards, Jomo Cosmos, Real Kings and Witbank Spurs. Five points separate fifth placed Siyavutha from Lidoda Duvha who are second on the log.

Lidoda Duvha were made to sweat for the three points by relegation threatened Uthongathi but managed to pocket the full points with a 1-0 win to keep their second spot. Ezenkosi were more clinical and emphatic as they beat embattled Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 3-0 to ensure they remain close to Leopards in third place.

Real Kings remain fourth despite being held to a goalless draw at home by Mbombela United. Siyavutha may have eliminated Cape Town All Stars from the play-offs race when they beat them 1-0, leaving them with an outside chance.

Things are as intriguing in the relegation battle with Mthatha Bucks scoring late to secure an important 2-2 draw against Richards Bay who are also not really safe from relegation as yet. The bottom placed Amathol’amnyama are however still six points behind their nearest rivals.

Ubuntu Cape Town look to have finally found their rhythm and were clinical as they beat Super Eagles to ensure they have a better fighting chance.

CT All Stars 0 Witbank Spurs 1 (S. Dlamini)
Sibusiso Dlamini’s solitary goal was enough to get Siyavutha back into contention for a place in the play-offs while making it even more difficult for Igugu leKapa to make it.

Mthatha Bucks 2 (L Bhengu; T Leitsisa) Richards Bay 2 (T Nkoane; M Hlophe)
Amathol’amnyama fought back hard to earn a point in this fixture. The point does little to ease their relegation woes but with six points separating them from safety, anything can still happen. Lindokuhle Bhengu scored the first goal for the home side while Tshepiso Leitsisa equalised right at the death. Thabiso Nkoane and Menzi Hlophe scored for the Rich Boys.

Jomo Cosmos 3 (A Gebhart; K Mabula; L Hlongwane) Tshakhuma 1 (Motebejane)
Ezenkosi cruised to victory and ensured they keep their hopes for the play-offs alive with this emphatic win. Ananias Gebhart, Khomtso Mabula and Lefa Hlongwane scored for Ezenkosi while Frank Motebejane did the same for embattled Tshakhuma. It now looks unlikely that Tshakhuma can make the play-offs having lost six in a row now.

Highlands Park 5 (Sphiwe Mahlangu; M. Sekola; L. Mbatha; P. Shalulile; Vukile Mngqibisa) AmaTuks 1 (Chemon Petersen)
The Lions f the North sealed their quest for a place in the Absa Premiership next season in fien style as they beat AmaTuks 5-1 takinhg their goal tally to an incredible 56. Sphiwe Mahlangu, Moeketsi Sekola, Lindokuhle Mbatha, Peter Shalulile and Vukile Mgqibisa all scored for the home side while former Moroka Swallows striker, Calvin “Mkhonto” Petersen’s son, Chemon Petersen did the same for the visitors.

Stellenbosch 1 (T Makanda) Royal Eagles 1 (B. Komane)
Tinashe Makanda may have thought he had done enough with his goal to get Stellenbosch back into contention for the play-offs position but Boikanyo Komane cancelled that from the penalty spot.

Black Leopards 1 (Ivan. Mahangwahaya) Uthongathi 0
Lidoda Duvha did the business despite a strong challenge from a determined Cane Cutters side. Ivan Mahangwahaya did the business and his goal ensured Leopards stay in the chase for a play-offs position.

Real Kings 0 Mbombela United 0
The Magic Boys ran out of tricks as Tingwenyama were determined to get the full points which would get back into serious contention for a place in the play-offs. The result did either of the teams little favour.

Super Eagles 0 Ubuntu CT 3 (Waseem Isaacs; Khanyisa Mayo x2)
Ubuntu revived their hopes of survival this week, first holding Real Kings to a draw on Tuesday and then beating Super Eagles 3-0 away to be on equal points with them. Waseem Isaacs and former Kaizer Chiefs defender Patrick Mayo’s son Khanyisa scoring twice.