Absa Premiership leaders Bidvest Wits suffered a blow in their bid for the title after they were beaten 2-1 by Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Clever Boys remain at the top of the log, three points ahead of Mamelodi Sundowns, but they have now played three games more than the Tshwane giants. The Lions of the North move up one place to ninth after claiming their fifth win of the campaign.
Wits claimed the lead after 13 minutes, with Gift Motupa scoring with a glancing header from Deon Hotto’s cross. The goal arrived shortly after Highlands forward Mokete Mogaila had been denied in a one-on-one situation by goalkeeper Darren Keet.
The hosts hit back just five minutes later, with a long throw-in from Ryan Rae finding Peter Shalulile unmarked in the penalty area – the forward placed a header beyond the reach of Keet to make it 1-1.
Highlands had further chances with which they tested out the excellent Keet, while Wits forward Simon Murray headed wide from a clear opportunity in the 40th minute, leaving the game locked at 1-1 heading into the interval.
The hosts made a change at the start of the second half, replacing Enocent Mkhabela with Thabo Motlafi, and they were able to assert greater control in the middle of the park.
The Lions of the North went ahead for the first time in the 71st minute, with Mogaila showing more composure in attack to round Keet before finishing off and making it 2-1 to the hosts. It was no less than they deserved for a hard-working showing, especially in the second stanza.
Wits searched for an equaliser in what remained, but they could find no way past the Highlands defence and goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
The teams will be in Nedbank Cup action next week: Wits are away to Black Leopards on Wednesday evening, while Highlands visit Cape Town City on Friday night.
Highlands Park (1) 2 (Shalulile 18’, Mogaila 71’)
Bidvest Wits (1) 1 (Motupa 13’)
Highlands Park: Heugh, Fransman, L. Mokoena, Mofokeng, Msimango, Rae (Haoseb 73’), Mbatha, Mahlangu, Shalulile, Mkhabela (Motlafi 46’), Mogaila (Nyembe 89’)
Bivest Wits: Keet, Hlatshwayo, Mkhwanazi, Nonyane, Hlanti, Pelembe, Alexander, Monare (Mere 66’), Hotto, Motupa (Majoro 72’), Murray (Domingo 58’)