Kaizer Chiefs are in danger of dropping out of the top eight after failing to secure maximum points for the fifth successive Absa Premiership clash.
The match was played in Polokwane due to the sanction imposed on Celtic, whereby they will play the remainder of their games this season outside of the Free State due to the pitch invasion in their subsequently abandoned match with Cape Town City two weeks ago.
Five minutes in, Mbhazima Rikhotso made a barnstorming run for Celtic through the heart of Chiefs’ midfield and found Kabelo Dlamini, who struck his shot wide of goal.
With ten minutes gone, Celtic had a half-chance as Bongani Sam whipped in a cross from the left and Menzi Masuku headed wide under pressure.
Three minutes later, Dlamini received a long ball on the left flank and cut inside before unleashing a decent right-footed attempt that sailed just wide of the left-hand upright.
It was all Celtic in the opening exchanges and in the 23rd minute Phunya Sele Sele deservedly took the lead after Ndumiso Mabena was brought down by Daniel Cardoso on the edge of the box. Mabena dusted himself off and curled in a delightful free-kick which went in off the right-hand upright, leaving Chiefs goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma with no chance.
Chiefs barely had a shot on goal in the first period and that was mainly down to Celtic’s compact shape.
Amakhosi coach Ernst Middendorp brought on Siposakhe Ntiya-Ntiya and Andriamirado ‘Dax’ Andrianarimanana for Philani Zulu and Daniel Cardoso at half-time.
Chances were scarce in the second half until the 57th minute when Dlamini used the decoy runner to his left to create space for himself on the edge of the box but the Celtic striker dragged his shot wide of the left-hand upright.
Parker tried again with a long-range effort but it had a similar result to the one in the first half, soaring well above the woodwork.
It was a worrying sign for Chiefs that their first shot on target came in the 70th minute when Ramahlwe Mphahlele’s ball over the top found Dumisani Zuma, whose first-time volley was a bit too tame and also straight at Phunya Sele Sele shot-stopper Amour Tignyemb.
By the time the clock reached 80 minutes, Celtic had discarded their high-press perhaps due to fatigue, which allowed Chiefs to penetrate deeper in to the final third as Phunya Sele Sele got plenty of numbers behind the ball.
With eight minutes to go, Siphelele Ntshangase’s corner found Parker just inside the box, but he dragged his left-footed effort inches wide of the left-hand upright.
Chiefs had one last chance in injury time through Ntshangase, but the substitute fired his shot straight at Tignyemb. Soon after, Celtic almost doubled their lead when Tshegofatso Mabaso’s flick around the corner released Neo Maema through on goal but Bvuma made himself big and the Phunya Sele Sele striker’s shot went wide.
Despite Amakhosi coming in to the game in the final 15 minutes, Lehlonolo Seema’s side held on for a crucial three points and leapfrogged Highlands Park in to the top eight with the Johannesburg-based side having lost 2-0 to Polokwane City earlier in the day.