By Nqobile Dludla and Luca Kotton
Bivest Wits advanced to the semi-finals of the season’s first big tournament after trashing Bloemfontein Celtic 4-3 on penalties at the Bidvest Stadium on Friday night.
Wits goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane won the game for the Clever Boys by saving an attempt from Celtic’s Limbikani Mzava with the game at 4-3 in the MTN8 tournament. The match ended goalless after 120 minutes of play.
First to take the penalty from The Clever Boys was newly signed midfielder Dillon Sheppard who sent Bloem Celtic goalkeeper, Patrick Tignyemb flying the opposite direction giving his team a 1-0 lead.
Trying to catch up to The Clever Boys, Alfred Ndengane’s attempt was quickly deflected by Mabokgwane leaving the penalty score at 1-0.
Toriq Losper and Relato Lamola both added to the scoreboard, putting Bidvest Wits 2-1 over Celtic.
Despite the the crowd cheering on Clever Boys captain Sibusiso Vilakazi as he prepared to take a shot at penalty, he was denied by Tignyemb allowing Celtic to recover to 2-2 after Musa Lakay slotted his shot in. But Sthembiso Ngcobo quickly advanced the home team, earning Wits a 3-2 lead.
The unavoidable scoring machine, Joel Mogorosi caught up with The Clever Boys, equalising the score. While Phunya Sele Sele were still enjoying the equal scoreline, Onismor Bhasera sent Tignyemb flying the opposite direction, putting The Clever Boys in the lead with 4-3.
The goalless draw
The opening half saw Bidvest Wits failing to capitalise on promising goal opportunities. New defender Buhle Mkhwanazi’s header failed to materialise after receiving a corner kick from man of the match, Toriq Losper, sending it well wide.
While a failed free kick from Jabulani Shongwe had Bloem Celtic goalkeeper, Tignyemb reminding The Clever Boys why he is the best at what he does, the Witsies maintained pressure on the Bloem Celtic back line.
Coming in for a rebound, Losper’s header was denied by Tignyemb after receiving a well angled pass from Henrico Botes.
Bidvest Wits’ were often awarded corner kicks much to the frustration of Bloem Celtic coach, Ernst Middendorp, who spent a good part of the match jumping up and down on the sidelines and punching the air in frustration.
“There were a lot of fouls from Wits to which the referee refused to take notice of”, Middendorp said after the match.
Despite Midderndorp’s frustration, Bloem Celtic’s Ruben Cloete managed to break the Clever Boys back line only to have his attempt fly over the top of Mabokgwane’s goal post.
While the game gained momentum towards the dying minutes of the second half, the score still stood at 0-0 at stoppage time witnessing the game move into 30 minutes of extra time.
Bidvest Wits coach, Gavin Hunt told Wits Vuvuzela after the match: “We had a couple of opportunities and they [Bloem Celtic] also had a good couple of opportunities. I thought they battled well; they worked hard and outfought us but we stuck and held our ground”.