Golden Arrows claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Witbank Spurs at the Puma Rugby Stadium on Saturday afternoon, securing passage into the last eight of the Nedbank Cup.
Lerato Lamola scored both goals for Abafana Bes’thende, but the real heroes came from the National First Division side, who outplayed their PSL opponents for most of the match and were arguably unlucky to end on the losing side.
The start of the match was delayed by 15 minutes while groundstaff worked on clearing away some of the standing water on the playing surface.
Once the match got underway, Arrows needed just nine minutes to claim the lead. A short corner was cleverly worked to allow Lerato Lamola shooting space, and he duly beat goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Spurs reacted well to going behind and succeeded in creating a few opening with which to test Arrows goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede, while the end-to-end nature of the game probably suited their style more than the top-flight team.
Arrows should have extended their lead on 33 minutes when they created an opening for Knox Mutizwa, but the forward tried to lob the advancing Sibanda rather than go around him and the goalkeeper was able to claim possession.
The first half ended with Arrows 1-0 to the good. The second stanza saw Spurs up their game dramatically, as they dominated play from the restart and put the PSL side under immense pressure, calling Gumede into action several times.
However, against the run of play, Abafana Bes’thende claimed their second goal in the 62ndminute: an attacking throw-in saw the ball land at the feet of Mutizwa, who in turn teed up Lamola to shoot beyond Sibanda and make it 2-0.
The Witbank team, to their immense credit, only turned up the volume after conceding the second goal, using their width and pace to force Arrows onto the back foot for virtually all of the final quarter of the game.
They were finally rewarded in the 84th minute, with substitute Slovo Mrawu chesting down a cross from the right before firing low shot past Gumede to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
With Spurs throwing men forward in the dying minutes, Arrows found space on the counter attack in the 89th minute and should have killed off the game. Danny Venter teed up Mutizwa with an easy chance, but he was denied by a brave block from Sibanda.
The match ended 2-1 in favour of Arrows, who join Chippa United, Cape Town City and Cape Umoya United as the teams which have secured passage to the quarterfinals thus far.
Witbank Spurs (0) 1 (Mrawu 84’)
Golden Arrows (1) 2 (Lamola 9’ 62’)
Spurs: Sibanda, Gum, Nkosi (Raphepele 81’), Motladile, Shaku, Sikhosana (Mdatyulwa 42’), Peter Mubayiwa, Patrick Mubayiwa, Sauls, Dube, Zwane
Arrows: Gumede, Lunga, Bilankulu, Mzava, Sibisi, Molefe (Nkombelo 59’), Parusnath, Venter, Conco (Sibiya 54’), Lamola (Sabelo 75’), Mutizwa