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Swallows stay in the hunt for the title 26/01/05
Moroka Swallows came from a goal down to snatch a win from Ajax Cape Town in an enthralling Castle Premiership match at the Newlands Stadium on Wednesday night.

Swallows enjoyed the better of the first half, but still went into the break a goal down, while although Ajax dominated in the second stanza, they ended up conceding twice.

The Birds got off to a good start and in the eighth minute they should have taken the lead when Mark McVeigh beat the offside trap, but with only keeper Andre Petim to beat, 'Soweto' blasted his shot over the crossbar.

McVeigh continued to see a lot of the ball down the right flank in the opening period, but although he was able to pick out  Shaun Permall and Dennis Lota, the strikers failed to create any openings.

In the 21st minute Swallows defender Mohammed Ouseb came close when his 35-yard rocket flashed narrowly over the goal.

Seven minutes later the Namibian international again came close with a near post header from an Edzai Kasinauyo corner.

The Urban Warriors had to wait until the 29th minute for a clear cut opening, which nearly lead to a goal when the Swallows defence was forced to clear Dominic Isaac's header off the line.

However, just a minute later they did get on the scoresheet when Norman Mapenza floated in a quality free kick and skipper Bradley August rose highest to head home the opener.

In the 43rd minute Swallows defender Warren Lewis was just not able to get up high enough to keeper his header on target, following a Kasinauyo corner.

The visitor's coach, Gavin Hunt, signalled his intentions immediately in the second half by replacing Gary McNab and Kasinauyo with Pitso Lekone and Lungisani Ndlela.

However, it was the team in red and white that looked more likely to score, particularly near the beginning of the half when they had a string of chances.

A mistake by Ouseb in the 47th minute let in Ajax substitute Mulekalayi Kanku, however Birds keeper Greg Etafia came to his team's rescue with a fine save.

Kanku continued to give the Swallows defence a torrid time and came close with further efforts in the 56th, 78th and 84th minutes, while Etafia again did brilliantly to save from close range to deny Wilfred Mugeyi's powerful header in the 57th minute.

In the 66th minute Ajax were made to pay for not finishing off their opponents when a moment's hesitation by Petim allowed Ndlela to block his clearance and the ball fell to Permall, who easily slotted home from 10-yards out against his former team.

A draw may have been a fair reflection of the game, but to the Dube Birds' credit they continued to look for the winner, which came in the 88th minute when the ball fell to Ndlela, who showed plenty of composure to shrug off Mapenza, who came close to pulling him down, and calmly slot the ball past the on-rushing Petim.

The result was vital to the Birds championship hopes, as it keeps them in touch with leaders Orlando Pirates, who have 39 points from 17 games, while Swallows are on 30 points from the same number of matches.

By Anthony McLennan



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