Top eight alive for the Birds

A return to the top eight is alive for the Birds, after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Black Leopards away at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night.

Striker Katlego Mashego came off the bench to score his 10th goal in the league, thereby reigniting his chances in the top goalscorer race.

Leopards made it a difficult outing with what could be described as clumsy approach, but the Birds plugged away nevertheless in search of an early goal.

The Birds' were pushing the ball into the opponents third as quick as possible with Dikgang Mabalane, Bennett Chenene and Siyabonga Nomvethe were doing their best to unlock the stubborn Leopards defence; but it seemed the last ball would just not fall in their favour.

Midfielder David Mathebula had the best look in at a goal, when he rounded the defence with a sneaky run for Lefa Tsutsulupa to find him with clever short free-kick; the maestro however did not connect with the ball which took a bubbled at the last moment.

Neither side managed to break the deadlock, going into the half-time break tied at 0-0, setting up an interesting second half.

The Birds continued to endure a frustrating outing against the hosts' awkward tactics in the early stages of second stanza.

Tsutsulupa thought he had done enough, when he used the surface to send a powerful header towards goal; but the goalkeeper was equal to the task.

The Birds' bench made changes in an effort to stabilise the team's formation, bringing on Giorgi Nergadze for Mathebula, while Mashego replaced Mabalane and Oscar Machapa jumped on for Nomvethe.

The changes brought favour to the Birds, as the pace of the match decreased which gave them more time on the ball to string some passes together.

Meanwhile, Nergadze made his presence felt in the box when he powered Tsutsulupa's corner just wide with the keeper well-beaten.

And just when it seemed there was no way , Mashego took matters into his own hands with about five minutes left in the game.

The Moroka Swallows leading scorer carried the ball from the right shielding his marker and released the trigger with his trusted left-boot to - the result was a breathtaking goal that put the Birds 1-0 up.

That goal was enough to deflate the hosts and seal victory and send the Birds back into the top eight.

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The Birds top goalscorer at the end of the season will be __________!

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