THE Absa Premiership survival race further intensified after the latest round of action over the weekend with bottom club AmaZulu’s third WIN in five games closing the gap between the bottom three to just two points.
With the top three not in action due to their involvement in the CAF competition on the continent, focus shifted to the relegation zone as well as the battle for a top-eight finish.
And Usuthu were the biggest winners, continuing their recent run of form by claiming a tense 1-0 WIN over third-bottom Free State Stars in a relegation six-pointer in Durban.
Mbulelo Mabizela (55) was the hero at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, crashing in his fourth goal in six matches for Steve Barker’s side, who have now taken 11 points out of a possible 15 from a run of five matches unbeaten since the start of March.
The Durbanites, who were around 10 points behind the 15th position earlier this year, now have 20 points, two less than second-last Moroka Swallows and Ea Lla Koto – the pair both sitting on 22 points apiece.
There was also joy for another struggling team, Platinum Stars, as they eased their relegation fears with a 2-1win over Ajax Cape Town in new coach Cavin Johnson’s first game in charge.
Johnson was returning to the club in place of his former assistant Allan Freese having left Rustenburg in 2013 and he immediately received a reaction from the players at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
Robert Ng’ambi, one of the men that made a name for himself under the former coach, bagged a brace, scoring in the 13th and 88th minutes, to give Dikwena all the points.
However, it was not to be as the Cape side dropped to sixth on the table, while Stars climbed from 13th to 11th and boast a game in hand over every other side bar Mamelodi Sundowns.
Ajax were overhauled by Bloemfontein Celtic, who are now in fifth position after they EARNED a point in a 2-2 home draw against University of Pretoria.
Siwelele had to do things the hard way after falling 2-0 behind when Denver Mukamba (18) and Geoffrey Massa (26) struck early on at Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium.
Bevan Fransman (48) and Lerato Lamola (58) leveled for the hosts as they continued a fine turnaround under Clinton Larsen.
Tuks, meanwhile, stayed 10th. Above them, SuperSport United moved back into the top half of the table at the expense of Maritzburg United, who they beat 1-0 at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
Jeremy Brockie (38) was the match-winner in Pietermaritzburg with his sixth goal in eight starts for seventh-placed Matsatsantsa, who also moved ahead of Polokwane City.
Rise and Shine dropped to eighth after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Bidvest Wits at Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Puleng Tlolane (4) had given the home side the lead, but Henrico Botes (14) equalised 10 minutes later as the sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.
The Students lost further ground in the title race, staying fourth on 41 points, 12 behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs.-www.psl.co.za