CARLO RP COCK AmaTuks suffered their first defeat of the National First Division (NFD) season on 22 February when they lost 0-2 to Chippa United at Absa Tuks Stadium. AmaTuks, who went into the game five points clear at the top of the NFD log and had gone an impressive seventeen games unbeaten since the start of the season, saw their seemingly unstoppable charge toward the NFD title brought to an abrupt halt by the Cape Town side. AmaTuks made a vibrant start to the game and had a chance as early in as the 3rd minute when they were awarded a free-kick, only for Sibusiso Themba to over-hit his cross. Then two minutes later Themba helped create another opportunity with his through ball reaching Aubrey Ngoma. Ngoma’s cross was inch-perfect but striker Chibuzor Ngwombo’s header went wide of the target. Chippa United, despite being backed by boisterous away support, seemed unsettled in the opening minutes and AmaTuks were anxious to take advantage. First, Philani Khwela delivered a dangerous cross that was well cleared by the Chippa United goalkeeper in the 8th minute then six minutes later Khwela set up Nqobile Mpala with a great cross but the striker’s header was off-target. It was to be a night of missed chances for Mpala and his strike-partner, Ngwombo, who was denied a goal after an excellent interception by the Chippa United keeper from Ngoma’s cross in the 18th minute. The visitors settled into the game at around the half-hour mark and had a chance to take the lead from their first spell of pressure. Petrus Ngebo latched on to a well measured through ball to put him in behind the AmaTuks defence, but was slow to get his shot away and was swiftly tackled by AmaTuks’ keeper, Siya Mngoma. Chippa United were growing in confidence and had another chance in the 34th minute when William Twala’s cross found Vusumuzi Mbuyani but Mngoma made another good save. Despite AmaTuks playing good possession football it was the visitors who were now in the ascendancy in terms of chances. Chippa United were denied the opening goal in the 36th thanks to a fantastic goal-line clearance from Siyabonga Shoyisa which was followed by a great reflex save from Mngoma. Just before half-time Ngoma received the first booking of the match for a foul on Twala after being embarrassed by some clever skill from the Chippa United winger. Ngoma was not to be outdone though and came close to giving AmaTuks the lead seconds later after a bewildering run through the Chippa United defence but his shot was aimed straight at the keeper. The second half started with the scores still level at 0-0 and Steve Barker, who had been unusually animated on the touch-line in the first half, resisted the temptation to make any substitutions as he had done at half-time in AmaTuks’ previous game. The decision looked, at first, to be a good one as AmaTuks began the second-half brightly. Mpala had the first chance with another header, again going well wide of the goal. In the 60th minute Chippa United forward, Ngebo was booked for simulation after attempting to get Shoyisa sent off with a dive. Ironically, it was Ngebo who saw red five minutes later after a deliberate handball led to his second yellow card. With the visitors down to ten men, AmaTuks tried to make their numerical advantage count but poor finishing was to be their undoing. Mpala missed another header after and then Ngwombo was unlucky not to score with his near-post header from Ngoma’s free-kick. In an effort to get the opening goal, Barker brought on Lucky Mzizi, who had been instrumental in the draw against Black Aces, and Christopher Flandorp for Themba and Khwela in the 72nd minute. The change did not work as Chippa United took the lead in the 75th minute after a great early cross form Mfundo Shumana and a good finish from Joshua Sauls. The striker controlled the high ball with aplomb before coolly slotting the ball past Mngoma. AmaTuks were not about to surrender their unbeaten record without a fight and created several chances to draw level. First Mzizi set up Mpala with a good cross but the striker produced yet another glaring miss. Then Ngoma crossed to Mpala for what looked a sure-fire goal, but the striker missed again. As AmaTuks surged forward in desperate search of an equaliser they left gaps at the back and were duly punished when Chippa United scored their second goal in the 90th minute. After some good hold-up play and a lay-off from Sauls, Andile Mbenyane blasted home the goal that sealed the win. Despite the defeat AmaTuks remain top of the NFD log and will go into their next home game against Witbank Spurs the 18th of March looking to get their promotion campaign back on track.

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