Eleazar Rodgers celebrates one of his three goals with teammate Chumani Butsaka, September 15 2020. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGE PIX
Eleazar Rodgers celebrates one of his three goals with teammate Chumani Butsaka, September 15 2020. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGE PIX

Ajax Cape Town put themselves back in serious contention for promotion to the Premier Soccer League with a 5-1 thrashing of Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila (TTM) in the bio-bubble at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old veteran centre-forward Eleazar Rodgers scored a hat-trick as all Ajax’s goals came in a second-half avalanche that buried TTM‚ who held a 1-0 lead at the break. 

Ajax also came from behind to beat TTM 3-2 in the opening game of the playoffs.

The Urban Warriors‚ long-time leaders of the National First Division (NFD) who blew a lead to allow Swallows FC to win promotion as champions‚ are serious contenders to advance to the PSL.

The NFD runners-up have six points from three games and can take a three-point lead should they beat 15th-placed PSL finishers Black Leopards (currently on six from two) in the next playoff game at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday.

If Ajax do take that lead‚ they will then be grateful for Tuesday’s flood of goals that has left them with a +5 goal difference to Leopards’ current +3.

Just 11 minutes into the game, midfielder Tholang Masegela went down the right and crossed with the outside of his left boot. Defender Junior Sibande could only deflect a header back across his own goal and the ball fell neatly for striker Thembisani Nevhulamba to sweep in a volley.

Ajax came out from the break pressing high and seeking goals. And they were rewarded with three in six minutes‚ four in 17 and five in 22 minutes.

A corner in the 47th minute was taken short to skilful first-half substitute Dale Wakefield‚ who was having an impressive debut. His cross was headed by Thendo Mukumela to force a sharp save from TTM goalkeeper Tshepo Ramaela.

The keeper made a second block from another replacement‚ Khaya Mfecane‚ at the far post. Centre-back Mukumela headed a third rebound onto the crossbar and finally midfielder Siphesihle Mkhize swept in.

If Ajax first took four bites at the cherry to get the ball into the net‚ the next two came from movements that cut TTM open as if with a surgeon’s knife.

In the 50th minute, Grant Margeman’s heel flick put fullback Cohen Stander down the left from where his low cross was met at the near post by Rodgers, who then beat Ramaela. 

The same three players replicated that scoring triangle in the 53rd minute‚ Margeman again passing to Stander down the left‚ who again crossed low‚ this time finding Rodgers at the far post to sweep in Ajax’s third.

The fourth came on the hour. Wakefield’s chip over the area from left to right found winger Chumani Butsaka with enough time to trap and shoot past Ramaela.

The fifth goal came five minutes later as TTM defender Lebohang Mabotja handled in the area and Rodgers slotted from the spot for his hat-trick.

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