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Ndlela strikes three times for Beautiful Birds 08/08/04
A hat-trick by bean pole striker Lungisani Ndlela saw the Birds get their Castle Premiership campaign off to a flying start against Ajax Cape Town at the Rand Stadium On Sunday afternoon.

Ndlela, who joins Chiefs striker Collins Mbesuma at the top of the goal-scorers list, looked dangerous throughout the match and may even have scored more goals with the amount of chances he made for himself.

The first chance of the game fell to Swallows in the eighth minute when winger Edzai Kasinauyo cut inside from the left and hit a goalbound shot which forced Ajax keeper Innocent Mayoyo, who was deputising for the suspended Moeneeb Josephs, into making a good save.

In the 25th minute Alfred Phiri was brought down by Tsholala Tshinyama on the edge of the box.

The former Ajax skipper got up to take the free-kick himself and struck it brilliantly into the top corner of the net.

However, the Swallows players had failed to take heed of the fact that the referee had in fact awarded an indirect free-kick, which meant that Phiri's goal did not count.

Urban Warriors winger Joseph Ngake went on a strong run in the 30th minute and did well to play the ball across the box to Anele Zibi, who failed to capitialise on the opportunity.

Shortly afterwards a weak header from the visitors defence saw Kasinauyo get in ahead of Mayoyo, but the veteran keeper did just enough to force the Zimbabwean to shoot wide.

With the game going into injury time at the end of the first half, Swallows took the lead when Lungisani Ndlela expertly placed the ball over the stranded Mayoyo after receiving a route one ball from keeper Conrad Hendricks.

The Birds came close to doubling their lead in the opening minutes of the second stanza when Ndlela headed the ball down to Denis Lota, whose shot at the near post was well saved by Mayoyo.

However, from the resultant corner Swallows did grab their second goal when Ndlela rose highest to head home into an unguarded net.

Just minutes later the tall striker nearly had his hat-trick when he burst through on goal, but as he tried to poke the ball home Mayoyo bravely denied him by bravely diving at his feet.

In the 64th minute Lota wasted a great chance to seal the game for the Dube Birds when he failed to find the target just inside the box after having been put clean through on goal.

The home side continued to press forward and substitute Samuel Ngobeni came close with a shot from the edge of the area two minutes later.

Almost immediately afterwards Nathan Paulse came close to pulling a goal back for Ajax from a corner, but his towering header was just wide of the mark.

In the 72nd minute Mayoyo pulled off a brilliant save to deny Ndlela, who had been left totally unmarked in the box, and from the resultant corner the gangly marksman again came agonsingly close with yet another header.

Six minutes later Ndlela finally secured his hat-trick when he converted from the spot after Bradley August had brought down Peter Petersen inside the box.

The win sees Swallows move second behind Kaizer Chiefs and on the back of this performance the Birds have shown that they intend to be serious title contenders this season.

Ajax at least have the consolation of knowing that three of their players will soon return from suspension, while two of their newly signed players will also be available shortly.

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