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Birds Unable To Penetrate Stubborn Cosmos Defence 21/12/03
Moroka Swallows dominated long periods of the game against Jomo Cosmos, but were just not able to beat inspired Ezenkhosi keeper Avril Phali and ended up losing the Castle Premiership clash 1-0.

Despite the searing heat, the game got off to a fast pace and as usual the Cosmos players were taking no prisoners with their tackles, conceeding a number of early free-kicks in the process.

Andrew Rabutla was particulary lucky to escape earning even a yellow card for a very bad tackle from behind on Swallows marksman Lunfisani Ndlela.

The first chance of the game came in the ninth minute and fell to Cosmos skipper, Tico-Tico Bucaune, who made space for himself in the box before shooting, but Swallows keeper Greg Etafia did very well to dive across to his right hand side and push the ball to safety.

Midfielder Peter 'Big 6'  Rabolele immediately replied with an effort for Swallows, but his long range shot went well wide of target.

As the half wore on the Birds started to enjoy more of the play, but although they sent in a number of crosses and long balls into the Cosmos box, their strikers were not able to get on the end of them as the home defence stood firm.

Swalows nearly took the lead in the 37th minute when Ndlela rose powerfully to meet Samuel Ngobeni's free-kick, but Cosmos keeper Avril Phali made a fantastic save to deny the lanky striker.

The home team started the second half with a lot more purpose and Clint Sepadi and Russell Mwafulirwa both had chances in the opening five minutes - Sepadi's shot was tame, but Mwafulirwa's effort flew just wide of the upright with Etafia seemingly beaten.

Cosmos continued to apply pressure and scored the opening goal in the 54th minute after a flowing move -  Bucaune fed Lefa Tsutsulupa, who chipped the ball over the advancing Etafia and into the path of his captain , who managed to scramble the ball over the line, despite the efforts of Peter Petesen and George Hummel to defend their goal-line.

Swallows coach Gavin Hunt responded to this setback by bringing on two fresh strikers - Shaun Permall and Mark McVeigh, as his side went in search of an equaliser, but the solid Ezenkhosi defence continued to frustrate the Birds, leading Hunt to bring on a fourth striker inn the form of Dennis Lota.

Lucas Sebona came agonisingly close to pulling a goal back for his team when he seemed to have turned a cross in, but Phali, who was going the wrong way, pulled off a wonder save to tip the ball over the bar in the 82nd minute.

Two minutes later some neat build up play saw the ball falling to Lota on the edge of the Cosmos area, but the Zambian dragged his shot wide of the target.

Sebona and Hummel both had futher efforts, none of which troubled the on-form Phali, who also dealt well with Lota's deflected effort.

With the game deep into injury time Bucaune nearly rubbed salt into the Bird's wounds when his cracking shot rattled the cross-bar.

Swallows were not able to muster any further chances, and coach Gavin Hunt will be bitterly unhappy at losing the game after his team dominated large periods of play.

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