Stars edge Ajax
Ajax Cape Town played Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium in Phuthaditjhaba, the game started at 19h30 in front of a sparse crowd.
The Urban Warriors suffered an early setback when Keamogetse Wolff was red carded with just 10 minutes on the clock.
The Ajax coach immediately replaced Carelse with Jenniker to stabilize his defence.
Stars enjoyed much of the possession and they capitalized when Manqele beat Westerveld from close range to give Stars the lead in the 33rd minute.
Free State Stars players peppered the Ajax goal with long range shots but Westerveld made a number of saves to keep his side in the game.
In the second half, the Ajax defence worked overtime as Stars poured forward in search of a second goal.
Stekelenburg made two changes in the 58th minute, Alexander replaced Maluleka and Akpabio replaced Manyama.
Ajax slowly clawed their way back into the game, putting together their passes together to put the Stars defence on the back foot.
The Urban Warriors carved out a scoring opportunity when a long ball forward found Akpabio inside the Stars penalty area, his pull back onto the penalty spot was cut out by the Stars defence to concede a corner.
The counter attack started from the restart and a long pass forward found Manqele in space on the left wing but Jenniker made great sliding tackle to clear the danger, the ball did not go far when Mokeke made a telling tackle just inside the penalty area to cut-out a Stars attack.
Manqele almost broke through minutes later when he got himself between two Ajax defenders to fire a shot at goal but Sander dived low to his right to make the save.
In the 75th minute, Fanteni and Billiat carved out an opening with a neat 1-2 move, but Terror’s shot from long range flew just over the bar.
Six minutes later Ajax produced an attack via Scott but his run was cut out on the edge of the Stars area and the home team immediately set up the counter-attack after the ref waved play on, the attack ended with a shot aimed at the near post from the by-line, again Westerveld was alert to make the save.
The Ajax defence was kept busy all evening as Stars took advantage of the extra man.
Late in the second half Booth’s challenge on Manqele inside the area diverted the danger just as the Stars player was about to burst through on goal.
In the final minutes of the game Lolo sent Billiat clear on the right but his shot, as he entered the Stars penalty area, flew wide of the target.
The solitary goal earned Stars all three points, while Ajax return to Cape Town for a much needed breather before they take on Amazulu at the Cape Town Stadium next Wednesday 28 March 2012 at 19h30.