Lindokuhle Mbatha scored the only goal of the game as the Rockets claimed a third win from their last five matches (a stretch in which they are also unbeaten) and moved up to ninth place on the log, displacing both Kaizer Chiefs and their opponents Phunya Sele Sele, who drop to 11th after a seventh loss of the campaign.
After a steady start from both teams, it was Galaxy who created the first opportunity: a well-worked move in the 13th minute involving Mlungisi Mbunjana and Mxolisi Machupu set up Mbatha with a shooting chance, but the attacker struck his effort wide of the mark.
The next shot on target came from Galaxy’s Bathusi Aubaas, but Celtic goalkeeper Sipho Chaine made a regulation save to keep the score line blank on 26 minutes.
Celtic’s first-clear chance arrived on 31 minutes, as a slick move opened up the home side’s defence and gave Reagan Van Der Ross a clear sight of goal, but his effort was superbly saved by Galaxy ‘keeper Marlon Heugh.
The Rockets broke the deadlock in the 39th minute, with Khaya Shozi doing great work in the final third to set up Mbatha, who provided a fine finish to make it 1-0 and rack up his second goal in as many games after also netting in the weekend’s draw with Chippa United.
Mbatha then almost went from scorer to provider a few minutes later, teeing up Machupu with a great chance but the striker missed out from close range, leaving the score 1-0 in favour of the hosts at the halftime interval.
Celtic, who had already swapped out Van Der Ross for Victor Letsoalo late in the first half, made another change early in the second when they brought on Motebang Sera to further boost their attack.
However, Galaxy were able to control the tempo of the game and there were few chances at either end, with most action situated in the middle of the park, where the likes of Mbunjana and Aubaas excelled in their unglamorous but vital roles.
Celtic began throwing more men forward in the dying minutes in an effort to get back into the game and they succeeded in forcing the Rockets onto the back foot, with centre-backs Bevan Fransman and Spiwe Msimango suddenly finding themselves far more involved.
Yet there was to be no joy for Phunya Sele Sele, as the Mpumalanga side picked up a fourth win of their maiden Premiership season and moved to within touching distance of the top half. Galaxy will return to DStv Premiership action on Tuesday 2 March with a match at home to Swallows FC, while Celtic will be away to Orlando Pirates the following day.
TS Galaxy (1) 1 (Mbatha 39’)
Bloemfontein Celtic 0
Galaxy: Heugh, M. Mahlangu, Fransman, Msimango, Mokoena (Matlala 67’), Aubaas, Mbunjana, Phohlongo (S. Mahlangu 67’), Mbatha, Shozi (Lekay 60’), Machupu (Sanoka 85’)
Celtic: Chaine, Baloyi, Lingwati, Mahashe, Ngobeni (Lotsane 74’), Masuku (Tchilimbou 74’), Kobedi, Mashikinya (Maema 76’), Fikizolo (Sera 54’), Van Der Ross (Letsoalo 41’), Mabena. Psl.co.za