Veteran Granwald Scott turned back the clock at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday to fire home the late winner in the iKapa derby against Cape Town City.
Scott, 34, came off the bench in only his third appearance of the season to ensure the bragging rights in the Western Cape belong firmly to the men in maroon of Stellenbosch. The 1-0 victory was Steve Barker’s team’s third consecutive derby victory over City, following on from their 3-0 thrashing handed out in the corresponding fixture at Athlone Stadium.
The goal was orchestrated by Marc van Heerden who floated in a free-kick that found Scott unmarked and the former Ajax Cape Town star showed all the predatory instincts of yesteryear to bang the ball home.
It was a perfect ending to a virtually perfect season for Stellenbosch with the three points propelling them into the almost unimaginable third position on the Dstv Premiership table. Considering they barely survived relegation last season it has been a turnaround of epic proportions for Barker’s men.
The defeat could have calamitous consequences for City though. Despite remaining in second place - two points ahead of Stellies - they could ultimately miss out on a lucrative place in the CAF Champions League due to Royal AM and Orlando Pirates still having two and three matches in hand respectively.
City will certainly rue not taking their opportunities in the first 45 minutes when they held the upper hand.
Both teams had made changes to their line-up from last weekend. Despite thrashing champions Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0 in their previous fixture, Barker switched from a 5-3-2 formation to a more offensive 4-4-2 with veteran central defender Robyn Johannes dropping out for attacker Antonio van Wyk.
City were also forced to shuffle their backline with the suspended Taariq Fielies not available for the iKapa derby after picking up a yellow card against AmaZulu. City, though, had a more than capable replacement in the highly impressive Congolese international Nathan Fasika to partner Keanu Cupido in the heart of their defence. There was also a change in midfield with Thabo Ndoda recalled for Mpho Makola.
The City defensive unit, who have been excellent during the second half of the season conceding just four goals in 1170 minutes prior into this fixture, closed down the ball over the top that Stellenbosch often utilise to unleash their speedy forwards.
This allowed the likes of Ndoda to roam freely with the skilful midfielder setting up Khanyisa Moyo with a delightful through ball in the 20th minute. Unfortunately for City, Moyo wasted the opportunity by drilling his shot wide of Sage Stephens’ post.
City then wasted a second golden chance on the stroke of halftime with Mayo once again the guilty party. Venezuelan Darwin González sent over a quality cross from the left into the box, but Mayo failed to hold his composure with his first-time volley flying high over the Stellies goal.
Tinkler and Barker both looked to their bench early in the second half to create greater impetus out on the park. Ndoda, Mduduzi Mdantsane and Gonzalez were replaced by Mokola, Taahir Goedeman and Jaeden Rhodes respectively, while the hosts swapped Van Wyk for Johannes with Stellies reverting to the formation that proved so successful against Sundowns. Ibrahim Jabaar, Ashley du Preez and Zitha Kwinika also made way for Scott, Waseem Isaacs and Devon Titus.
The initial advantage fell to City with Craig Martin launching a counter-attack before being fouled by Deano van Rooyen,who was entered into the referee’s book for his indiscretion, on the edge of the box. The Stellies wall, though, kept firm from the resultant free kick.
This close shave seemed to ignite the home side with Stellies enjoying two quality chances within five minutes of each. Jayden Adams failed to convert an opportunity from close range after a throw-in from Mark van Heerden fell kindly for him, while Van Rooyen could also not convert a few moments later.
But Stellies were not to be denied with Scott sending the home supporters into a state of delirium with virtually one of the last kicks of the season.