AmaZulu were unable to make their home advantage count when they went down 1-0 to Free State Stars in their Absa Premiership clash at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday night.
The only goal of the match was scored late in the game by substitute Anver Esterhuizen after both sides had been guilty of wayward shooting and losing the ball in the final third.
The hosts were the better side in the first half with Dumisani Zwane finding the target in the 17th minute, but his effort lacked the power to trouble Tshepo Motsoeneng.
Roger Palmgren’s men spent a lot of time in the Free State Stars half but failed to get behind the defence and were forced into taking shots from a distance with Zhuwawo shooting over the crossbar in the 23rd minutes.
Ten minutes later the ball fell for central defender Carlington Nyadombo just outside the penalty area, but he also failed to hit the target as his powerful strike went wide of the left post.
The second half saw Stars comitting more men forward with the wind on their back and they almost went ahead in the 46th minute, only for Dove Wome to lift his strike over the crossbar.
Lehlohonolo Thebakang had an even better effort five minutes later as he managed to beat AmaZulu goalkeeper Philani Zikalala from the left, but his shot came off the upright.
The hosts then threatened at the other end but failed to make it count as subsitute Josef Lekata was unable to reach a low cross from Ayanda Dlamini with less than ten minutes to play.
The visitors took advantage of that missed chance in the 86th minute when Esterhuizen ran ahead of his marker to head a cross from Tsietsi Mkhwanazi into the back of the net.
Usuthu had one last chance to grab a point in the 90th minute from a setpiece, but Marc Van Heerden saw his curled effort dipping just wide of the post.
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Esterhuizen 86′)
AmaZulu: Zikalala, Teyise, Van Heerden, Nyadombo, Cele P, Zhuwawo, Kgatla, Zwane (Mshengu 90 + 1′), Mokoro (Mbele 90 +1′), Khumalo (Lekata 68′), Dlamini A
Free State Stars: Motsoeneng, Nomandela, Ouro-Akoriko, Thebakang (Esterhuizen 55′), Wiltwer, Kerspuy, Cardoso, Mkwanazi, Masehe, Wome (Coetzee 89′), Mvula (Mkhatshwa 74′)