Johannesburg – Swallows FC slipped closer to the prospect of relegation from the DStv Premiership after they were held to a goalless draw by Chippa United at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result means the Birds stay in 15th place (the relegation playoff berth) but lead 16th-placed Baroka FC (who romped to an impressive home win over SuperSport United) only on goal difference heading into the final round of the campaign next weekend.
There is also a two-point gap to the safety of 14th, currently occupied by TS Galaxy (who were held 0-0 by Marumo Gallants).
As for the Chilli Boys, the stalemate was very much a welcome result, as they jumped up to 12th place and are now mathematically safe from the prospect of relegation.
Swallows offered the first threat on goal in just the second minute, with a Kamohelo Mahlatsi shot from the edge of the box deflecting off a Chippa defender and forcing Lloyd Kazapua into a sharp save.
The Birds bossed most of the first half-hour, though clear chances were hard to come by. The best saw Mahlatsi play a clever pass in behind the Chippa defence for Kagiso Malinga, but the striker sent a low effort wide of Kazapua’s left-hand upright.
Dillon Solomons was lively down the right flank for Swallows but missed out on a chance to put his side in the lead on 35 minutes when he exchanged passes with Malinga before firing wide from a tight angle with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The Birds suffered an injury blow late in the first half when holding midfielder Givemore Khupe succumbed to a heavy knock to the shoulder and was replaced by Mbulelo Wambi. The interval arrived with the score still locked at 0-0.
Chippa made no less than four changes at the start of the second half, with Thokozani Sekotlong, Zuko Mdunyelwa, Veluyeke Zulu and Azola Matrose coming off the bench.
Swallows’ second chance arrived just before the hour mark and saw Ruzaigh Gamildien introduced – his presence in attack immediately brought about a strong shout for a penalty for the hosts, but the referee waved away their appeals.
Swallows kept up the pressure in attack but were unable to find a way through, with Chippa – who clearly came to Soweto with the sole ambition of keeping a clean sheet – holding firm to secure top-flight football for next season.
The teams are scheduled to complete their Premiership campaigns next Saturday. Swallows will be away to Soweto rivals Kaizer Chiefs, while Chippa will play host to TS Galaxy.