Result: Bidvest Wits 1-0 Bloemfontein Celtic
Venue: Bidvest Stadium
Date: 19 January 2018
Bidvest Wits continued their resurgent run of form with a 1-0 win over ten-man Bloemfontein Celtic at the Bidvest Stadium.
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The game got off to a slow start, with neither side creating much in the way of early opportunities. The Clever Boys looked the more promising of the two, but even so, Patrick Tignyemb was largely untested in the opening stages.
However, a moment of madness from Mpho Maruping in the 29th minute cost Celtic a penalty and a man. He was sent off for a Diego Maradona-esque handball inside his own area. To add insult to injury, James Keene stepped up to the spot, sent Tignyemb the wrong way, and gave Wits the lead.
Siwelele were arguably lucky not to lose another player — or at least pick up a yellow card — in the 34th minute, when Ronald Pfumbidzai’s horrific two-footed lunge on Sifiso Myeni yielded no more than a free-kick.
Celtic clearly needed to change something — and in the fourth minute of the second half, Veselin Jelusic made the first substitutions of the game. Tshegofatso Mabasa was replaced by Menzi Masuku, while Given Mashikinya made way for Ndumiso Mabena.
Gavin Hunt responded in the 61st minute, bringing on Thabang Monare for Keene, who had picked up a yellow card for a foul on Alfred Ndengane. Hunt then promptly replaced Myeni with Elias Pelembe.
Straight afterwards, Mbhazima Rikhotso went down in the penalty area under pressure from a couple of Wits players, claiming to have been fouled. However, the referee was having none of it.
Then, in the 65th minute, Maliele Pule saw his fierce strike kept out by Tignyemb at the near post. The game was becoming far more open than it had been in the beginning.
Pule became the final Wits player to make way six minutes later, as Daine Klate came onto the field.
Yet again, the substitution preceded a piece of action. The alert Daylon Claasen won the ball in a dangerous position on the left, but was just unable to pick out Lehlohonolo Majoro with his pull-back from there.
Celtic continued to play an aggressive game, with Lorenzo Gordinho’s crunching challenge on Klate producing no card despite the former Kaizer Chiefs man raising his boot as he slid in. Vusi Shikweni came on straight afterwards, in the 76th minute, to replace Lantshene Phalane.
Another cynical challenge — this one on Claasen — then saw Rikhotso yellow carded in stoppage time.
Try as they might, there was nothing Jelusic or his players could do to compensate for Maruping’s reckless red card and salvage a point. As a result, Wits moved up to 13th on the table, while Celtic stayed ninth.
Here's how they line up:
Wits: Keet, Hlatshwayo, Khumalo, Pule (Klate, 71’), Hlanti, Claasen, Mkhwanazi, Myeni (Pelembe, 62’), Gyimah, Keene (Monare, 61’), Majoro.
Celtic: Tignyemb, Pfumbidzai, Rikhotso, Ndengane, Maruping, Mabasa (Masuku, 49’), Gordinho, Baloyi, Hotto, Mashikinya (Mabena, 49’), Phalane (Shikweni, 76’).