Baroka FC secured another season in the Absa Premiership following a fiery 1-1 draw against Black Leopards at Thohoyandou Stadium on Saturday.
Bakgaga entered the final PSL Promotion Playoff clash with a three-point lead and superior goal difference, and Victor Letsoala’s early strike left them in the driving seat.
Leopards were shown a way back after Letsoalo turned from hero to villain for Baroka after being sent off only two minutes into the second-half, before Siphelele Ntshangase equalised from the penalty spot, although there was to be no late turnaround from Limpopo side.
The result means Baroka finish the mini-league campaign three points clear at the top of the mini-league table, while Leopards join playoff flops Stellenbosch FC in facing another campaign in the National First Division.
The match proved a lively affair right from the off and although Baroka dominated the opening exchanges, it was Leopards who came closest after six minutes from a stinging free-kick which Avhashoni Tshinuna managed to tip over the crossbar.
There was still plenty of vigour about the game heading throughout the opening quarter of the tie, although with so much on the line, some of the players began going with a bit too much exuberance, leading to several fouls and plenty of breaks in play.
With 34 minutes gone, Baroka broke the deadlock as they carved open the Leopards defence with some brilliant passing play, with Richard Matloga rolling his man but seeing his shot saved, although Victor Letsoalo was on hand to slot home on the rebound.
Kgoloko Thobejane’s men almost went 2-0 up moments later as Jose Garcia was teed up from just a few yards out before rifling at goal, but Rotshidzwa Muleka produced a sublime one-handed save to somehow keep out the forward’s effort.
Lidoda Duvha were handed a glimmer of hope moments after half-time as Victor Letsoalo was shown a second yellow card and subsequent sending off to leave Baroka with only 10 men on the field.
With 67 minutes gone, Leopards finally took advantage of the numbers as Lebogang Mabotja was adjudged to have been brought down inside the area, with Siphelele Ntshangase making no mistake to fire home the resulting penalty.
Leopards continued piling on the pressure as Baroka’s goal came under constant pressure, although Bakgaga almost broke on the counter to wrap the game up with 10 minutes remaining although Kgaswane was unable to get a proper connection on his shot.