PSL relegation dogfight takes another twist

The bottom five teams have begun to pick up points at a crucial juncture in the DStv Premiership season and there were vital wins in midweek for Baroka FC and Maritzburg United that have boosted their survival hopes.

There is still a lot of football to be played with three rounds remaining in the campaign, and looks at who is in the mix and fighting for their lives.

Baroka FC

Position: 16th

Games Remaining: three

Points: 21

Baroka FC claimed what could be a crucial victory when they beat Lamontville Golden Arrows 1-0 on Wednesday, providing new caretaker coach Vincent Kobola with a huge boost in his bid to keep the side up.

They remain bottom of the table in the automatic relegation place, but are now only two points behind Swallows FC in the playoff position.

Baroka are five points from absolute safety, so their best bet is to make the playoffs and hope they can get through that tournament, as they have in the past.

And they might fancy their chances of another three points away at Chippa United on Saturday, a team that has only won once in 13 home games this campaign (D8 L4).

That being said, Baroka have yet to win on the road (D2 L11), which is exactly why they find themselves in their current predicament.

Swallows FC

Position: 15th

Games Remaining: three

Points: 23

Swallows seem to take one step forward and two steps back in their battle to avoid the drop, having claimed a vital victory over Baroka FC, only to then lose at home in midweek to AmaZulu.

They face a tough away assignment on Friday when they must go to youthful SuperSport United, who have seen a resurgence of form in recent weeks as they fight to earn a place in the MTN8 next season.

The Birds have actually picked up more points on the road than at home this season, but with just four wins in 27 games this campaign, now have the fewest victories among all 16 top-flight teams.

That is a telling statistic and they will need, at the very least, one more to avoid automatic relegation and at least two to lift themselves out of the playoff position.

Their games after SuperSport are home to Chippa United and away at Kaizer Chiefs.

TS Galaxy

Position: 14th

Games Remaining: three

Points: 25

Galaxy have taken seven points from the last nine available in a huge boost to their survival hopes that has seen them move three points clear of the relegation zone.

But they face a difficult away trip on Saturday night as they must go to Champions League-chasing Cape Town City, who have not lost at home since September and have only one defeat all campaign.

The odds are stacked against Galaxy, but they have also proven proficient at getting a point at least on their travels in recent times.

If you include their Nedbank Cup win over Kaizer Chiefs, they have three wins and three draws in their last seven away fixtures, their only blemish a 1-0 defeat at Baroka FC in early March.

They are a team that looks to be playing with confidence at the right time of the season and they will celebrate a point at City as if it is a win.

Chippa United

Position: 13th

Games Remaining: three

Points: 27

Chippa continue to grind out results with their ultra-defensive football, which has seen them embark on a four-game unbeaten streak (W1 D3) and edge their way to safety.

Rookie coach Kurt Lentjies sets his side up not to concede, and then hopes they can get something on the break, though he would be happy too with three draws to end the campaign, which should be enough for survival.

Chippa host Baroka on Saturday, where a draw would realistically be enough to ensure they did not finish bottom of the table.

They were a little fortunate in their midweek 0-0 stalemate with Cape Town City, who missed a late penalty, but at this stage of the season it is all about scraping together points, however you get them.

Maritzburg United

Position: 12th

Games Remaining: three

Points: 27

Maritzburg’s midweek victory over Royal AM was huge for the team and perhaps the result that will see them to safety.

It is amazing the difference having fans back in the Harry Gwala Stadium makes as the vociferous home support cheered them on to a deserved win.

They are now four points clear of the drop-zone, while their comparatively good goal difference (-9) compared to the other strugglers is worth an extra point.

They could all but seal their survival away at Stellenbosch FC on Saturday, though it is certainly no easy place to go and play. Maritzburg have just a single away win this season (D5 L7), which came at Baroka in September. – Mzansi Football,

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