Unlucky Ajax Slip Up Against Their Neighbours

Santos ran out narrow winners in the Cape derby after they beat Ajax Cape Town 1-0 in an action packed game at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.

The game was played in windy conditions in front of a near to capacity crowd - certainly a rare, but also encouraging event in Cape soccer.

Santos, who were the home team, enjoyed the better of the first stanza, with Tyren Arendse in particular causing a lot of problems with his pace. It was indeed Arendse who opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with a great run and cool finish.

Ajax were by far the dominant force in the second half, but were just not able to find the back of the net on the night.

The first chance of the game fell to Arendse in the second minute. The pacy winger started the move in the midfield before Fees Moloi took the ball to the by-line. Arendse did well to meet the return ball in the box, but his powerful effort was well blocked by Ajax keeper Moeneeb Josephs.

Ajaxs' first chance of note came in the 15th minute when they worked the ball to Bradley August from a free-kick. August struck the shot with venom from outside the box, but saw the ball narrowly fly across the face of goalkeeper Brenden Wardles' goal.

Ajax started to control the game in sent in a number of dangerous crosses into the swirling wind which, although causing problems for the home defence, did not result in any goal attempts.

The Peoples' team then took the lead in the 23rd minute through a well taken goal from Arendse. The ball was initially won by Moloi on the left hand side of the field. The former Chiefs man sent a great cross-field ball to Arendse, who took August out of the equation with a great first touch before cooly chipping the ball over the on-rushing Josephs.

Only a minute later Arendse had a good chance to double the lead after receiving a cross from Mxolisi Mchunu, but he scuffed the header and the ball went just wide of target.

Anele Zibi came close to replying for the Urban Warriors in the 33rd minute, but shot over the bar after being put under pressure by two Santos defenders.

The game remained fairly even in the closing minutes of the half, although Ajax did have a penalty claim turned down in the last minute when Chris Tsotetsi brought down Wilfred Mugeyi, but the referee decided that the Santos man had got a toe to the ball.

Ajax started the second half looking a lot more determined and could have scored the equaliser in the opening seconds if Wardle had not reacted quickly enough.

Another two chances followed in quick succession which were both blocked by the Santos keeper.

The action was coming quick and fast at this point, and Jonothan Solomons brought the best out of Ajax keeper Josephs after he had cut inside a defender and fired in a powerful shot.

Santos thought they had added a second goal to their tally when Cyrille Mubiala steered a Santos cross into his own net, but to their dismay their goal was disallowed for an off-side call earlier in the build-up.

Only two minutes later Mugeyi also found the back of the net with a flying header from a Dillon Sheppard cross, but once again his effort was ruled out for off-side.

The team in red and white again came desperately close to scoring in the 73rd minute when Mulekelayi Kanku was involved in a goal-mouth scramble in which the ball was somehow bundled over the crossbar by Kamaal Sait.

Another good move by Ajax a couple of minutes later saw substitute Nathan Paulse head the ball into the path of Kanku, but unfortunately for the DRC international his effort from outside the box fell straight into the arms of Wardle.

At this stage of the game it was all Ajax as the home side desperately defended their slender lead.

Santos looked like scoring a second when a swift counter-attack released substitute David Notoane down the right flank, but Josephs did brilliantly to get to the ball first after having rushed close to 50 yards off his line.

In the very next minute a mistake by Wardle lead to the ball being crossed to Mugeyi, but the Zimbabwean was not able to keep his effort on target with an open goal beckoning.

It was really end to end action in the late stages of the game, and on yet another Santos break-away, Bantam came extremely close to chipping Josephs from 35-yards out, showing great vision in the process.

In the dying seconds of the game Kanku nearly squeezed in an equaliser rom a tight angle, but Wardle just kept the ball from going in, ensuring that his team took all three points and the honour of the "unofficial kings of Cape Town soccer" - until the return leg at Newlands at least.

The result sees Santos move up from sixth position into third place, while Ajax remain second behind Chiefs.

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