cape town city v highlands park
EWN

Cape Town City scored three goals in 13 minutes to defeat Highlands Park 3-0 on Friday and reach the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals.

A seesaw struggle for supremacy in an all-Premiership round-of-16 clash took a decisive turn on the hour when Highlands goalkeeper Marlon Heugh committed the first of two blunders.

He failed to hold a shot from outside the box by Kermit Erasmus, a melee ensued and captain Thamsanqa Mkhize slammed the loose ball between the legs of Heugh for the lead.

The goalkeeper could not be faulted for the second goal at Cape Town Stadium as Craig Martin controlled a dropping ball with his knee before unleashing a thunderbolt into the corner.

Heugh was to blame for the third goal on 73 minutes, though, as he failed to trap a back pass, then slipped while vainly trying to recover and prevent the ball from entering the net.

“I hope he can get over those mistakes as Marlon is a good goalkeeper,” said sympathetic Cape Town coach and former South Africa star Benni McCarthy.

“We were off the pace in the first half and I had to give a tongue lashing to several players at half-time.

“I told them what they needed to hear and warned that if there was no improvement and a change of attitude we would lose a match that was there for the taking.

“They played in the second half the way I expected them to perform from the start. There was a sense of urgency and we won a lot of second balls.”

Highlands coach Owen da Gama believed the match officials erred in not awarding his Johannesburg-based side a goal six minutes into the opening half.

“It looked a goal from where I was sitting on the touchline,” he said. “I am not saying we were robbed, just that the correct decision was not made.

Big-screen replays suggested the referee got a marginal decision correct with the whole of the ball not crossing the goal line before it was cleared.

Although Cape Town had more first-half possession, Highlands created the better chances and were denied twice by the woodwork.

It was a good day for Cape Town clubs with Cape Umoya United eliminating fellow second division outfit Mbombela United 4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 draw following extra time.

The other six round-of-16 ties are scheduled for Saturday, Sunday and Monday.