The new residents of Harry Gwala Stadium, Royal AM, finally recorded their first win of the DStv Premiership season by edging TX Galaxy 1-0 with a goal from Thabo Matlaba in the 60th minute at the council-owned venue on Sunday.
The win came in Royal AM’s fourth fixture of the season, following one draw and two losses.
Veteran defender Matlaba was the hero for the home side after breaking the deadlock in the second half against tough opponents from Mpumalanga.
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The game had started at a slow pace with both teams trying to size each other up. But the visitors were first to string some nice passes together around the field of play.
During the early stages of the game the visiting side enjoyed a lot of ball possession in the middle of the park, especially where Lefa Hlongwane, Bernard Parker and Lindokuhle Mbatha were operating.
The visitors were the first create a decent scoring chance in the second minute, but the headed attempt went wide.
The home side looked under pressure in the first six minutes and the visitors showed a lot of confidence, forcing “Thwihli Thwahla” to play in their own half.
In the 16 minute the visitors sent in a decent-looking set piece but Royal AM defenders were able to defend it. It looked unwise for the home team to allow the visitors to dictate terms in the middle of the park.
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In the 24th minute the visitors had a great chance of taking the lead, but Hlongwane unfortunately fluffed that golden opportunity when his square pass failed to find his teammate Lehlonoholo Mojela.
Royal AM players at one stage looked to be very careless and kept on losing ball possession in the middle of the park, which gave the visitors few chances of launching a wave of attacks.
In the 32nd minute Galaxy’s Kamogelo Sebelebele also wasted another good chance of taking the lead when his shot went wide and another chance in the 34th minute was wasted by Mbatha.
During the first half the visitors looked set to score or take the lead at any time but failed, which made the first half score 0-0.
Also, both teams dismally failed to produce the much needed magic for the fans.
During the start of the second half, the visitors looked set to carry one where they left off in the first half and pushed their opponents backwards.
In the 57th minute the home team were unlucky not to take the lead when Mfundo Thikazi’s shot was denied by the crossbar.
All of a sudden the home outfit looked better and comfortable on the ball.
They were also able to move the ball around, spread passes and the speedy Matlaba was also able to push up.
Finally, in the 60th minute, it came as no surprise when Matlaba found the back of the net with a well-taken “grass cutter”.
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In the final stages of the game, the visitors tried their best and kept on searching for the equaliser but failed. Their final chance, and the best one, was missed by Sphiwe Mahlangu after a costly blunder by Thwihli Thwahla’s defence.
Royal AM head coach John Maduka said the plan was to sit back first in the first half, defend properly and try to catch them on the counter attack.
We knew that if we defend well, we will be able to get a goal. Our plan worked and we also improved in the second half.