Deon Hotto of Bidvest Wits challenged by Hendrick Ekstein of Kaizer Chiefs during the Absa Premiership 2018/19 match.
JOHANNESBURG - Bidvest Wits wasted a chance to reopen a five-point South African Premiership lead on Wednesday when they slumped to a 2-0 defeat against Kaizer Chiefs for a fourth home loss this season.
The losers saw the gap between them and second-place Orlando Pirates narrow to two points 24 hours earlier when their closest challengers defeated Chippa United in Soweto.
Chiefs' Leonardo Castro broke the deadlock on 58 minutes in Johannesburg and the Colombian played a key role in setting up Hendrick Ekstein to double the lead after 78 minutes.
If Wits fail to win a second league title in three seasons after waiting 96 years for the first, they will curse poor form at their 5,000-seat Milpark Stadium home.
Before Chiefs, they fell by single-goal margins to Bloemfontein Celtic, SuperSport United and Polokwane City at their base, while boasting an unbeaten away record.
A bad night for Wits got worse deep in stoppage time when veteran defender Robyn Johannes was red-carded after a second caution.
Wits coach Gavin Hunt was clearly furious with the refereeing, but refused to discuss it for fear of a touchline ban or heavy fine, or both.
"I am very disappointed with the result and the way the match was handled," said the coach who has won four Premiership titles, three at SuperSport and one with Wits.
"But I will not say any more about the game in case I say something that I should not say and get into trouble."
Recovering well from an unlucky home defeat by defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns four days ago, Chiefs controlled the second half and could have won more convincingly.
Victory was crucial for the four-time Premiership champions as they narrowed the gap behind Wits to nine points in the middle of the season while rising from eighth to fifth.
Maritzburg United remained rooted to bottom place after failing to defend a lead at home against lowly Free State Stars, who scored twice in the second half for a 2-1 victory.
Deolin Mekoa scored what was only the strugglers' sixth league goal in 16 matches to give them a 1-0 half-time advantage in eastern city Pietermaritzburg.
Relebogile Mokhuoane levelled on 73 minutes and more sloppy defending by Maritzburg permitted Sinethemba Jantjie to net the winner nine minutes from time.
Free State rose one place to 13th, five points ahead of United, who finished fourth last season and were runners-up in the South African FA Cup.