Stellies claim Cape Derby bragging rights after five-goal thriller
Steve Barker’s side emerged victorious from a frenetic Cape Derby at the Danie Craven Stadium on Friday after overturning a two-goal deficit to claim a famous 3-2 victory over rivals Cape Town City.
The guests opened the scoring in the opening five minutes through Lorenzo Gordinho who tapped home from a set-piece situation before Darwin Gonzalez doubled the advantage late in the second half, finishing off a swift break which came wholly against the run of play. Man of the Match Devin Titus immediately pulled one the stroke of half-time as Stellies headed into the change room in the ascendency, albeit with work to be done in order to turn the tie around.
Titus was the man to lead that comeback as he netted his second goal of the night shortly after the restart before substitute Sinethemba Mngomezulu composed himself to score a late winner which sent a packed stadium into raptures.
Head coach Steve Barker cast an animated figure on the sidelines as he joined in the celebrations and he couldn’t hide his pleasure at the result. Here is what he had to say in the post-match press conference:
On his side’s famous comeback victory over Cape Town City…
“We went a goal down early on in the fourth minute from a set-piece and for a team that is lying near the bottom of the table, the players’ heads could have dropped, but I thought the response in the first half was probably one of the best performances I’ve seen by a Stellenbosch team. We really applied pressure in the remainder of the half and the rest of the chances we created – I think they had one other entry into our half which they then scored from, so it was a bit of a travesty to be 2-0 down at that stage, but the goal by Devin Titus just before half-time was exactly what was needed.
“That goal brought us into the changing room only one goal down instead of two, and then the message at half-time was that, ‘Listen, we are going to win this game. There is no doubt in my mind, we’re not playing for a draw and to get back to 2-2. We’re going to get to 2-2 and then we’re going to go on and win the game.’ That was the message to the players and they deserved it (the win). They’ve worked hard, they’ve been written off and doubted, but I’ve never ever seen them lack spirit or commitment, and they continued to show that in the second half. That second half was probably not as controlled from us as the first half was, especially after it went 2-2 and they got back into the game and looked like creating a chance, but I think sheer determination and sheer determination from the crowd, who really got behind the team, got us over the line.”
We don’t lose derbies – Stellenbosch FC Head Coach Steve Barker
“…We don’t lose derbies,” he added. “We win derbies. That’s our nature. We’re from this side of town and it’s been the message that this is one special game in which we must make sure we reward our supporters with a victory. We showed it tonight, so I’m really proud of the performance. I am relieved, obviously, it was a big, needed win, but the important part is that if we can put in a performance like this against Cape Town City, we have to replicate it when we take on Chippa United away from home in a week’s time.”
On Devin Titus’ delightful double…
Devin has always been involved in goals, from his DDC days. He took his goals well tonight and he deserved them. He’s a player that has that sheer work-rate and works hard, and he will get rewarded with a really good career, in my opinion. For him to get the two goals was magnificent and you could see at the end, he was one of the players who were getting cramp and tiring because they’ve had to put in a big shift over the last few weeks, but really proud of Devin this evening. And also of our young centre-back pairing. For (Olwethu) Makhanya who is 18 and Oshwin Andries at 19 to stand up the way they did, and show their character the way they did was really good to see.”
On getting a first win of 2023 and building consistency…
“…There is always pressure. It’s part of football but that’s the nature of the game. It’s about handling that pressure and responding, embracing it and not hiding or running away from it. It’s about facing it head on. That’s me, the tougher the going gets the more I come out fighting and so does the team. The character they showed today was really strong. There’s still pressure, we’re nowhere near where want to be, but hopefully this can be the catalyst to turn our season into a positive one.
“Building consistency is always the challenge. You know, a Derby on a Friday night under the lights in front of the home crowd, in a televised game, it’s made for players to perform. That’s their stage and they had a good stage today in order to perform. The challenge is next week, where there may not be as big of a crowd away from home, and the match might not be televised, to show that deep character. I’ve told the players during the week that the difference between the good and the great players is that the great players never get tired. They must show that they are great by never getting tired of working hard, never getting tired of wanting to win football matches and putting in performances like they did not tonight and putting up a united front. Our backs were against the wall but our club mottos are ‘More than football’ and ‘We are one,’ and I think we showed that. We are a united football which needs to continue showing that consistency moving forward.”
“Like I said, it doesn’t help to put on a performance today and then next week you don’t follow it up because then you can be back to square on. Results around you can go against you and you’ll find yourself in the same situation. But, this is a step in the right direction.
On whether or not Friday’s win was his favourite derby…
“Yes, I think so because of the context of the situation, you know, (coming back from) being 2-0 down at home in front of a lovely crowd. I think we must also become a Maritzburg United and turn Friday’s into a special occasion for supporters to come to and hopefully put in more performances like that.”
You can see the highlights of Cape Derby in the video below, courtesy of SuperSport