Free State Stars claimed revenge over Highlands Park with a 2-0 win in a Nedbank Cup last 32 match at Goble Park on Saturday evening.
Ea Lla Koto suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Lions of the North in a league encounter last weekend, but they dominated this cup tie and fully deserve their passage into the last 16.
Stars enjoyed a dominant performance in the first half, having more possession and goal attempts than a Highlands team which was much changed from their line-up which won at Goble Park in a league clash last Sunday.
Ea Lla Koto forced goalkeeper Marlon Heugh into several saves through the first 45 minutes and finally got the better of him just before the break: midfielder Nhlanhla Vilakazi capitalised on a loose ball on the edge of the box after the ‘keeper had come flying off his line and easily steered a shot home for 1-0.
Stars should have doubled their advantage 10 minutes into the second half when fullback Bokang Thlone provided a fine cross to pick out Mohammed Anas, but the striker was unable to direct his header on target.
Just past the midway point of the second stanza, Ea Lla Koto veteran Paulus Masehe let fly from long range and the ball flashed just wide of the mark – much to Heugh’s relief – as the home side continued to boss proceedings.
On 78 minutes Stars finally put the result beyond doubt with a second goal. Former AmaZulu midfielder Goodman Dlamini was the man who found the back of the net, securing a 2-0 lead for the home side.
Stars join Kaizer Chiefs, Kwadukuza United, Jomo Cosmos, Bloemfontein Celtic, Baroka FC, Mamelodi Sundowns and Polokwane City as teams already through to Thursday’s last 16 draw. The remaining teams will be determined by sets of matches on Sunday and Wednesday.
Free State Stars (1) 2 (Vilakazi 45’, Dlamini 78’)
Highlands Park 0