Ajax triumph in Cape derby

A goal from Nhlanhla Shabalala was enough to see Ajax Cape Town come out tops in the Cape derby against Santos at the Newlands Stadium on Wednesday night.

The game got off to a blistering start, with both sides enjoying numerous chances in the opening 20 minutes.

Ajax enjoyed the first chance of the game in the seventh minute when Grant Igesund fired in a brilliant cross from the right, and Bradley August, who was playing at striker, was just unable to control his shot as he went sliding in to meet the ball.

The hosts continued to put the People's Team under pressure and in the 11th minute they came close when a goal-mouth scramble resulted in Mulekalayi Kanku having a crack on goal, however, the DRC midfielder's shot was blocked.

Santos replied with a chance of their own in the 12th minute when Marawaan Bantam was left un-marked to power a header at Moeneeb Josephs, who pulled of a stunning save to keep the visitors from opening the scoring.

In the 29th minute Santos keeper Ryan Wuest pulled off an equally brilliant save after August had risen high to meet Joseph Ngake's cross from the left.

Barely a minute later the Urban Warriors found the goal they were looking for when some sloppy play by Duran Francis allowed Ngake to cross to Nhlanla Shabalala, who calmly brought the ball under control in a crowded penalty area before placing into the bottom right hand corner of the net with the outside of his boot.

In the 40th minute Josephs again made sure that his team did not concede a goal when he pulled off a good save to deny a skidding, low shot from Jainudeen Lackay.

Ajax were forced into making a change just before the break with Franklyn Cale having to come on for Igesund, who had hurt himself in a collision with Wuest.

The second half again started rather scrappily and at a fast pace with some crunching challenges coming in from both sides to prove that there was no love lost in this derby.

Warren Budde came on as a substitute for Santos and soon had a chance to make his mark on the game when he received the ball in space on the edge of the area, however, the left-winger succeeded only in hitting the side-netting.

In the 64th minute Josephs again rose to the challenge when he moved quickly off his line to stop Carlo Scott from getting on the end of a through ball.

The game then went through somewhat of a lull as the urgency seemed to disappear from both sides.

In the 80th minute a mix up in the Ajax defence allowed Thembile Kanono a chance to shoot from the edge of the area, but once again Josephs pulled off a solid save.

The team in yellow were using substitute Jean-Marc Ithier to win the aerial balls, but although they spent more and more time in the Ajax half, they were just not able to pry open a determined home defence.

With the game having being held up by many stops for treatment to injured players, Santos were given an extra six minutes by referee Jerome Damon to try and find an equaliser.

With the game into the 97th minute, Edries Burton had a good chance to score from a well-placed free-kick, but his effort went well over the bar.

The whistle blew shortly afterwards, sending Ajax up to fourth place on the PSL table.

Read more about Ajax cape Town on the web site of the club.