Birds keep top eight bid alive

The Birds kept the top eight bid alive, with a massive 1-0 win over Free State Stars in a league clash at the Volkswagen Dobsonville Stadium on Friday evening.

Departing Moroka Swallows winger Bennet Chenene proved his commitment to the side with an instinctive strike to put the Birds 1-0 up in first half.

Combinations between Katlego Mashego, Siyabonga Nomvethe and Chenene were a joy to watch for the Birds' faithful, while young midfield-anchor Sibusiso Kumalo continued his progress alongside captain Lefa Tsutsulupa.

Meanwhile, Larry Cohen and Roger da Costa's centre-back pairing made it a quiet night for goalkeeper Greg Etafia, as Rudi Isaacs and Shere Lekgothoane also did their bit on the defensive flanks.

Swallows were on the front-foot from the get-go, but the fans were made to wait as composure got the better of the Birds' attackers.

A quick turn and shoot move by Chenene left Stars goalkeeper Tsepo Motsoeneng with no chance, as the whole Birds' Nest went on their feet in admiration of the winger's goal.

That goal eased the anxieties in the Birds' attack as they began changed gear and shared the ball with a lot more control and took the lead to the half-time break.

In the second half, Stars retuned a much more urgent side and had the Birds on the back-foot as they searched for the equaliser.

They had a chance to draw level from the penalty spot, after Da Costa was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.

Striker Fikru Lemessa stepped up but sent his shot sailing over and the Birds' faithful could breathe a sigh a relief.

The introduction of Dikgang Mabalane, David Mathebula and Oscar Machapa for Felix Obada, Mashego and Tsutsulupa added different dynamics to the Birds' play, as they swapped counter-attacking for control.

Machapa could have wrapped it all up late in the game, but the Zimbabwean swingman sent his header off-target with the 'keeper at his mercy.

The final whistle confirmed a job well done by the Birds, as they continue to push for a top eight spot - which would see them make the MTN8 title-defence bid.

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