Ajax Cape Town suffered a setback to their title hopes when they went down 1-0 to Zulu Royals at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Sunday afternoon, which was their first defeat in 16 games.
The game was a tightly contested affair in which home keeper and man-of-the-match Gareth Ormshaw pulled off several fine saves to deny the vistors.
Alfred Phiri missed a great chance to give the Cape Town side an early lead when he shot over the bar from only eight yards out following Nathan Paulse's square ball in the fourth minute.
In the 13th minute Moeneeb Josephs did brilliantly to come off his line to deny a goal-bound Jackie Ledwaba. The ball then bounced off the Ajax keeper into the path of Emmanuel Ngobese, whose follow up shot crashed against the crossbar.
Seven minutes later the home team had another great chance when a route one ball by Ormshaw went straight through to Ledwaba, but his attempted chip from the right hand of the box went just over the goal, causing frustrated Royals coach Clive Barker to fling himself to the ground.
In the 30th minute Ormshaw did well to come out smartly to block Phiri's shot after the latter had been released by Grant Igesund down the right flank.
The Urban Warriors almost went into the break a goal to the good when Brent Carelse picked out Anele Zibi with a cross, but the U-23 international headed wide of goal in the 43rd minute.
Just after the restart Igesund almost put the Cape team in front when he chested down the ball inside the Royals box, but his left footed parting shot flew across the goalmouth without finding the target.
In the 55th minute Mulekalayi Kanku brought a good save out of Ormshaw with a powerful goalbound shot from just inside the box.
Three minutes later the Usuthu keeper again had to be at his best in order to tip substitute Dominic Isaac's thunderbolt long range shot over the bar for a corner
In the 67th minute Ajax were reduced to 10 men when Shane Poggenpoel was sent off for a second bookable offence.
This red card will certainly add fuel to coach Gordon Igesund's claims that his team have been targeted as far as red cards go, with Poggenpoels' dismissal being the third time in four outings that one of his players have had to take an early shower.
In the 75th minute Ajax had a moment's worry when the ball fell loose in their box following a free kick, but Royals were unable to capitalise.
However, they were able to find the back of the net, when in the 78th minute, Ledwaba took his goal tally to for the season to 12 and threw a spanner into the works of Igesund's title dreams when he was left unmarked in the box to head home a corner.
The Urban Warriors threw everything into the final 10 minutes, but they were just not able to break down the Zulu Royals defence, which held on desperately to give the Durban team only their fourth win of the season and a vital three points.
As the final whistle blew, the contrasting emotions of the two teams were there for all to see as Clive Barker's men celebrated the victory which gives them a chance of escaping relegation, while the Cape team's players could not hide their disappointment at dropping three vital points in their quest for league honours.
More about Ajax Cape Town on the web site of the club .