10.01.2016 17:38 h

English striker's instant impact in S.Africa

England-born James Keene created a goal, scored and was voted man of the match on his South African Premiership debut as Wits beat Chippa United 3-1 Sunday to regain top place.

The 30-year-old, whose previous clubs include Portsmouth and Bournemouth, joined the unfashionable Johannesburg club from Swedish outfit Halmstad this month.

And the 1.79-metre (5.87 feet) striker took just eight minutes to make an impact on the matchday 13 clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in eastern coastal city Port Elizabeth.

Keene laid off the ball for rising star Phakamani Mahlambi to fire a deflected shot past Nigerian goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi for the lead.

The Englishman struck three minutes after half-time, running on to a headed pass and quickly controlling the ball before slamming it into the net.

A scrambled goal credited to Andile Mbenyane halved the deficit after 53 minutes before Wits clinched a ninth league victory of the 2015-2016 season with the best goal of the match.

Ben Motshwari claimed his first goal of the championship campaign by half-volleying a loose ball past startled Akpeyi from outside the box.

"I enjoyed the game," Keene told reporters. "It was very physical and we won thanks to a great team effort."

Wits coach Gavin Hunt, winner of three consecutive Premiership titles with previous club SuperSport United, hailed his side for winning their first match after a three-week holiday break.

"We worked hard and deserved to win after conceding a silly goal to allow United back into the game temporarily.

"Every time we attacked there was the possibility of a goal and that was encouraging.

"Chippa are not an easy team to beat and will win more often than they lose at home."

Victory lifted Wits to 29 points, two more than record six-time champions Mamelodi Sundowns and surprise title challengers Mpumalanga Black Aces, as the 15-match halfway mark looms.

Sundowns fought an ultra-cagey 0-0 draw away to title-holders Kaizer Chiefs at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.

The visitors came closest to scoring as a swerving, long-range Tebogo Langerman shot rebounded off the crossbar five minutes from time with goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse stranded.

Veteran Zambia striker Collins Mbesuma raised his season goal tally to a chart-topping eight with the winner as Aces defeated visiting Polokwane City 1-0 in eastern city Nelspruit.

Orlando Pirates, 2015 CAF Confederation Cup runners-up to Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, continue to struggle in the bottom half of the table after being held 1-1 at home by Platinum Stars in Soweto.