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‘BIRDS’ KEEP TITLE HOPES ALIVE

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NHLANGANO - They are still in it.

This is the story of capital City giants Mbabane Swallows who scrapped past Tambankulu Callies in a feisty MTN Premier League game played before close to 500 fans in Nhlangano in a sunny afternoon yesterday. Trusted midfielder Njabulo ‘D4D’ Ndlovu’s  unanswered goal proved to be the difference, as Swallows toppled Buffaloes on the third sport to keep their title hopes very much alive.

Interestingly, ‘D4D’ scored even in the abandoned game which had to be stopped four days ago due to hailstorm just four minutes into the second half. The Musa Manyatsi-led charges were leading 2-0 before the unthinkable happened. Yesterday’s result ensured that Swallows, who are now on 57 points, closed in on Highlanders, while also keeping leaders Royal Leopard in sight. With three games to spare, Swallows are now only a point behind their sworn rivals, Highlanders who drew 3-all with Malanti yesterday. However, the red and white ensemble are still four points behind league leaders Leopard. Callies, on the other hand, were in chase of rare double against Swallows after winning 4-2 in the first round. Despite the defeat, they were still unmoved on the fifth spot with 38 points.

From the early exchanges, Swallows pressed Callies on their own half and skipper, Tony ‘TT’ Tsabedze almost broke the deadlock but his header missed the target by inches. The former SuperSport United winger was at it again,but was denied by Ncanawe Ndlandla from 40 yards out. The visitors were close to scoring four minutes before half-time but Seidou Blandja cleared a Yowanna Mbouma volley just on the goal-line with Sandanezwe Mathabela way out of his line after a failed save early. The home side had to introduce Banele ‘Pupu’ Sikhondze for injured Felix Badenhorst in the second half after the latter was elbowed by Callies goalkeeper. The super substitute made a difference few minutes in as he was brought down just at the edge of the box by Jimoh Moses.  

industrious

Former Black Leopard winger, Wonder ‘Samba Jive’ Nhleko took the honours and saw his place kick being parried into play by the opposition goalminder, and the industrious ‘D4D’ tapped in from close range to make it 1-0 six minutes before the hour mark. There was a mini scuffle just 10 minutes before full time when Callies’ Khulekani Manana and ‘Pupu’ manhandled each other just near the technical area following a crude tackle by the former. Referee Celumusa Sphepho,Swallows officials and players alike had to separate the two before the heated argument turned to a fight.

The hosts were attacking in droves in the last minutes, but their attacks did not yield any profitable results. Former Swallows striker Smanga Shongwe’s volley saw his shot miss the target by inches with five minutes remaining on the clock. A Neliso Myeni header  was also saved by Mathabela from close on the stroke of full time. Despite relentless attack, the home side stood their ground and kept their clean sheet.

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