Highlands Park off to a flyer in PSL play-offs


Tingwenyama were by no means outplayed, but Highlands Park boss Allan Freese got his tactics spot on as the Lions of the North defended solidly before striking from set-play, all three of their goals coming via that route.

The game took place in front of a near-full house, the atmosphere electric at the scenic Kanyamazane Stadium.

But the home side were to have the worst possible start when Highlands Park took the lead after just six minutes, former Moroka Swallows defender Rudi Isaacs side-footing home from a free kick after Mbombela had failed to clear their box.

It was the visitors who continued to enjoy the better of the opening exchanges and they nearly doubled their advantage in the 14th minute when Jose Garcia's miss-hit cross bounced off the upright. But the Mpumalanga side began to find their feet around the 20-minute mark, upping the pace and ante in search of an equaliser.

This saw Highlands keeper Tapuwa Kapini doing well to tip over a long-range free kick by Dingaan Maphosa on 26 minutes before Siyethemba Mnguni came close on the half hour mark when his shot from outside the box blazed over the crossbar by a matter of inches.

The hosts continued to dominate and were again very close to netting when Bongani Ndhlovu's curling effort from the left-hand side flew agonisingly wide on 40 minutes.

Mbombela began the second half as they ended the first, taking the game to their Gauteng opponents in search of an equaliser. Kapini had to make a smart stop to keep out Sifiso Thomo's 53rd speculative 53rd-minute free-kick. But again the visitors were able to see off the Mbombela threat and went on to extend their lead in the 63rd minute when Mothobi Mvala sent a header into the back of the net from a corner.

Ten minutes later and Mvala struck again, making it 3-0 as he headed in at the back-post from another corner which had been flicked into his path, the home side's defence badly exposed from a set play once more.

With the home fans departing in numbers, Tingwenyama's spirits dropped and they were unable to mount any kind of a comeback or even improve their goal difference in the closing 15 minutes as the visiting club closed out the match with ease.

Highlands Park sit out the next play-off game, which sees AmaTuks hosting Mbombela United in Pretoria on Sunday afternoon. - African News Agency (ANA)

Original source: Highlands Park off to a flyer in PSL play-offs