Clinical finisher Tshegofatso Mabasa helped Bloemfontein Celtic into the South African FA Cup quarterfinals by scoring in a nervous 1-0 win over lower-league Richards Bay on Saturday.
The joint-leading goal scorer in the Premiership this season with eight struck his first of the competition on 66 minutes at Free State Stadium.
He evaded a defender who slipped to the ground trying to clear a cutback and rifled a low shot into the corner of the net to settle the round-of-16 tie.
Celtic should have doubled the lead soon after, but the captain and goalkeeper Patrick Tignyemb had a penalty saved and he blazed the rebound wide.
Second division Richards Bay, who stunned trophy-holders Free State Stars in a last-32 tie, had Katlego Maphathe red-carded for a reckless tackle as they chased an equaliser.
Former Lesotho star Lehlohonolo Seema was a relieved Celtic coach after a match in which his side struggled in the final third.
“While winning is all that matters in a cup tie, I cannot pretend to be happy with how we performed in the final third.
“A difficulty in scoring is not just an issue at Celtic – it is a national problem and all the clubs are battling to find solutions.
“There is a lack of composure among our footballers. Too many goal attempts are rushed with negative outcomes.
“As for that penalty by Patrick, I think he will think twice before venturing forward to take another one soon.”
After a shock-riddled previous round, top-flight trio Celtic, Golden Arrows and Chippa United all won against second-tier opponents.
Lerato Lamola netted for the Arrows in each half before a Slovo Mrawu goal six minutes from time for Witbank Spurs set up a tense finish with the visitors hanging on for a 2-1 win.
Guided by former national coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, Spurs had plenty of opportunities to create another shock, but half of their 22 goal attempts finished off target.
“We could not score and concede two silly goals,” lamented Mashaba, who was fired as South Africa coach in 2017 for publicly criticising the national football association president.
League strugglers Chippa continued a revival under new coach Clinton Larsen by scoring twice in the second half to defeat Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila 2-0 in Port Elizabeth.
Kurt Lentjies put the local club ahead on 51 minutes and after they were reduced to 10 men by an Andile Mbenyane red-card, Marks Mayambela sealed a victory with a stoppage-time goal.