Stellenbosch’s hopes of starting 2020 with a home win were dashed on Saturday afternoon when they went down 2-0 at the hands of Bidvest Wits at the Cape Town Stadium.
Stellies drop to 14th on the log after suffering a seventh loss of the season, while the Clever Boys climb to third place – nine points adrift of leaders Kaizer Chiefs, but with two games in hand.
Stellenbosch found their footing first in the game, looking to use the flanks to test Wits’ defence with crosses from the likes of Ashley du Preez, Nkanyiso Zungu and Marc van Heerden.
Former Wits midfielder Granwald Scott had the first shot in anger, dragging an effort wide from just outside the penalty area. That this shot occurred just after the half-hour mark says everything for the way the two teams were struggling to find their rhythm.
Yet this sparked a flurry of long-range efforts from both teams, with Phathutshedzo Nange sending a well-struck shot just wide of Boy De Jong’s right-hand post, before Waseem Isaacs flayed a wild one into the empty stand behind the goal.
The match was truly brought to life 10 minutes before the end of regulation time in the first half, with Gift Motupa showing his quality in attack: the striker picked up a pass from Sameehg Doutie and crashed home a superb shot from a tight angle to put the Clever Boys 1-0 up.
Shortly thereafter Stellies nearly claimed an equaliser, with Ryan Moon’s flick-on from a corner kick giving Isaacs the chance to score, but he had to lunge to connect and failed to direct the ball on target, leaving Wits narrowly ahead at halftime.
The hosts made a change at the start of the second half, withdrawing Sibusiso Mthethwa and replacing him with veteran Morgan Gould. Yet Wits continued to look the more dangerous team and Motupa held off Robyn Johannes hefore dragging a low shot wide of the target in the 51st minute.
The Clever Boys freshened up their attack midway through the second half with the introduction of Molahlehi Khunyedi in place of Mxolisi Machupu, and Motupa soon stung the palms of De Jong with a well-hit effort a couple of minutes later.
Wits had a major scare with 15 minutes of regulation time remaining, as Leletu Skelem ran onto a flick-on from Isaacs and shot on goal, only for Ricardo Goss to make an excellent reaction save.
The Clever Boys counter attacked from the resulting Stellenbosch corner kick and doubled their lead, with Deon Hotto cutting inside from the right flank and shooting on his left foot – the Namibian winger’s effort took a wicked deflection and found the net to seal the three points for the Johannesburg visitors.
The teams will return to Premiership action this coming midweek, with Stellenbosch at home to Bloemfontein Celtic and Wits away to champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
Bidvest Wits (1) 2 (Motupa 36’, Hotto 76’)
Stellenbosch: De Jong, Mobbie, Mthethwa (Gould 46’), Johannes, van Heerden, du Preez, Scott (Skelem 73’), Matsi, Zungu, Isaacs, Moon (Franco 65’)
Wits: Goss, Macheke, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Doutie (Ritchie 79’), Monare, Nange, Hotto, Machupu (Khunyedi 68’), Motupa (Human 85’)