AmaZulu suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of an in-form Stellenbosch FC in a DStv Premiership clash at the Danie Craven Stadium on Friday night.
Usuthu put in a battling performance against the Cape side, but were ultimately undone by strikes from Iqraam Rayners and Devon Titus.
Stellenbosch started strongly and created a fine chance on eight minutes when Dean Van Rooyen drove a dangerous ball into the goal-mouth from the right, but AmaZulu’s Veluyeke Zulu was perfectly placed to make a clearance.
The visitors were inches away from taking the lead on 12 minutes when Gabadinho Mhango rattled the frame of the goal with a shot direct from a free kick. The rebound fell kindly for Mbongeni Gumede, but he could only head a tame effort wide of the mark.
Shortly thereafter AmaZulu had another chance when they took advantage of a mistake in midfield, but George Maluleka’s low shot from a tight angle was well saved by Sage Stephens.
AmaZulu appeared to be building momentum, but Stellies claimed the lead in the 18th minute when Iqraam Rayners tucked home from close range after exchanging passes with Junior Mendieta in the penalty area.
Mendieta should have made it 2-0 on 35 minutes when Stellenbosch cut through AmaZulu’s defence on the counter, but goalkeeper Veli Mothwa bailed out his team with an excellent save one-one-one.
Stellenbosch went on to dominate the remainder of the first half, but the score remained 1-0 to the interval.
The start of the second stanza saw Usuthu make a double change, as Ethan Brooks and Thabo Qalinge were introduced off the bench, but it was Stellenbosch who made most of the running in attacking terms.
On the hour mark they were a post’s width away from a two-goal lead, as Devon Titus sprung the offside trap and rounded Mothwa, but from a tight angle only managed to hit the base of the nearest upright.
The Cape side spurned another great chance to increase their lead midway through the second half when Titus unselfishly teed up Rayners, but the attacker struck wide from close range.
AmaZulu’s first chance of the second half arrived on 72 minutes when Thembela Sikhakhane whipped in a cross from the right to find the head of Sede Dion, but his glancing effort flashed wide of the far post.
Stellenbosch eventually made it 2-0 in the 76th minute, with a long ball over the top of the defence allowing Titus to run free down the right of the penalty area before stroking a low shot through the legs of Mothwa.
The hosts had chances to add to their advantage via Antonio Van Wyk and Rayners, but ultimately settled for a 2-0 victory over the visitors from Durban.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action on Saturday 1 April, with Stellenbosch away to Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu at home to Swallows FC.
Stellenbosch FC (1) 2 (Rayners 18’, Titus 76’)
Stellenbosch: Stephens, Van Rooyen, Makhanya, Sibiya, Sibanda, Mthethwa, Jabaar, Titus (Nduli 90+3’), Mendieta (Van Wyk 77’), Rayners (Mngomezulu 90+4’), De Jong (Adams 77’)
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane, Gumede, Zulu, Hanamub, Manziba (Qalinge 47’), Maluleka, Malepe (Brooks 47’), Ekstein (Kunene 65’), Mhango (Zuma 64’), Dion