The Birds finished the season in the 15th spot they’d made theirs for a significant part of the campaign following a 2-2 draw with Kaizer Chiefs.
Johannesburg – The Dstv Premiership status that has been precarious for most of the season remains uncertain for Swallows FC who will now have to contest the difficult play-offs against two sides from the GladAFrica Championships.
The Birds finished the season in the 15th spot they’d made theirs for a significant part of the campaign following a 2-2 draw with Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
On their chairman David Mogashoa’s birthday, Swallows failed to use the occasion as inspiration to shine, the fact they were ahead late in the match notwithstanding.
Dillan Solomons must have thought he had ensured Swallows’ stay up in the elite league when he converted two penalties within a space of 10 minutes after two handballs by Chiefs.
First Phathutshedzo Nange inexplicably blocked the ball with his hand on the goalline and referee Masixolo Bambiso pointed to the spot and then changed his mind after consulting his assistant Meoeketsi Molelekoa. The whistleman then incredibly went back to his original decision and sent Nange off.
Solomons converted with ease to get the Brids level. A few minutes later another handball saw the man in the middle point to the spot and again Solomons beat Bruce Bvuma.
At 2-1 up, Swallows looked to have ensured their stay in the Premiership but they then conceded a free kick which veteran Bernard Parker slotted home for a 2-2 draw that meant the Birds will have to contest the play-offs to try and remain a Premiership outfit.
Swallows attacked incessantly in the first half, their approach telling the story of a team in desperate need of the maximum points on offer. But positive as they were, the Birds failed to compliment their good build-up play with precision finishing, though Chiefs should also be credited for keeping things tight at the back.
Amakhosi went into the half-time break 1-0 up courtesy of Njaabulo Ngcobo’s headed goal on 20 minutes following what had appeared an innocuous attack by the home side only for the Swallows defence to be caught napping.
Stung by the goal, the Birds started throwing everything bar the proverbial kitchen sink at Amakhosi and came close to restoring parity on numerous occasions, with Mwape Musonda heading over when finding the target appeared easier.
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) May 21, 2022
Kamohelo Mahlatsi saw his curling shot from inside the box go inches off Bruce Bvuma’s goal, before the Chiefs goalkeeper parried a shot away as the home side’s rearguard held on under pressure.
When the referee blew for half time, Swallows coach Dylan Kerr – strangely wearing shorts in the freezing Highveld conditions – sprinted to the dressing room where he must have made his players aware of the dire situation they will find themselves in should they continue to pussy-foot about instead of making their dominance count.
And things got better for Swallows in the second stanza, although Chiefs’ marking appeared somewhat lax than it was in the initial 45 minutes. The two handballs would have been avoided had they worked hard to restrict the opposition to long shots, as they had done in the first half.
But then they got clumsy at the back and gifted Cheifs a set piece that the stalwart Parker put to good use and leave Swallows having to try to rescue their status in the play-offs.