Mamelodi Sundowns were beaten 3-0 on Saturday afternoon by Stellenbosch FC in their penultimate DStv Premiership League match of the season.
Stellies took an early lead in the contest through Ashley Du Preez which sent the visitors on their way to claiming the three points. The team from the coast played an over the top ball from their half in between Masandawana’s center halves, Du Preez was well positioned and controlled the ball towards The Brazilians box and beat Ricardo Goss to the ball.
After conceding, Bafana Ba Style kept control of the ball and tried to settle into the game. The possession based plan got them up the pitch with an opportunity to pull one back for themselves, but the solid defense of Stellies stood firm. Neo Maema struck at goal after combining short passes with Themba Zwane on the left side of the pitch but his effort went wide of the target.
It became an uphill battle for The Brazilians to find an equalizer, a set piece for the home team was awarded at half hour after Teboho Mokoena was brought down. Mokoena worked a wonderful strike into the box to connect with Peter Shalulile who screwed a shot over from close range.
Stellies were adamant in their defensive structures, giving Masandawana no time to connect their passes inside the final third. Sphelele Mkhulise’s effort at goal from far flew just wide. Masandawana did not let the visitors’ lead stop them from playing their pressing and counter football as they held onto most of the possession and continued with their high press.
As the halftime drew to a close and the home team looked for an equalizer before the break, Khuliso Mudau’s attempt was blocked by Mark Van Heerden followed by a superb save by the goalkeeper Sage Stephens of Stellies to deny Maema a goal.
Stellenbosch doubled the advantage at the brink of half time with a stunning over the top goal from Jayden Adams. Goss and his defensive line were beaten when The Brazilians’ goalie cleared the ball out of a quick attack only for the ball to be in sight with Adams. The first 45 minutes of play time ended with a 2-0 lead for the coastal team.
Into the second period and the game continued to follow the same pattern with Downs having the majority of the ball and Stellies trying to hit them on the break. Shalulile was released by a wonderful pass into the box but the striker could not find the perfect finishing as the goalkeeper was nearby to collect the incoming delivery. Both sides struggled to keep the ball on their feet as they went at each other, eventually Stellies hit a third through Du Preez just before the hour mark and ended any hopes of a comeback for the Tshwane giants.
Sundowns made four substitutions, Lyle Lakay, Gaston Sirino, Pavol Safranko and Haashim Domingo were introduced in the place of Zwane, Bradley Ralani, Aubrey Modiba and Maema. The home team then fashioned their best chance in the encounter with Grant Kekana, but his header from Mokoena’s free kick bounced over the top post.
The contest started looking bright for Masandawana as the full time approached, the next chance fell on to Safranko after connecting with the ball in the air, the Slovak international’s effort was saved by the goalkeeper who went on to win the man of the match award for working over time. Despite the huge sense of disappointment at the final whistle, The Brazilians remain at the top of the log and await to be crowned Champions in a week.
This is how we lined up: