Of all the objectives a team may have at the beginning of their first top-flight season, setting a new Premiership record for the most number of draws would be lower down the list.
For a newly promoted side like Swallows, survival in the highest division would be the primary objective – and they had secured their 30th point (the average for safety) as early as their 16th game. Having secured safety halfway through the season, Swallows’ objectives would have been readjusted to a Top 8 finish.
But it took Swallows another 9 games to secure the ten points they needed to all but secure a Top 8 finish, winning their 40th point after 25 games. A Top 4 finish would have been the next possibility, but Swallows have been hampered by the number of draws they’ve collected throughout the season.
17 – Swallows have drawn 17 matches in the league this season, equalling the Premier Soccer League (PSL) record for draws by a team in a PSL season. If they draw one of their remaining four games, they’ll set a new PSL record.
The draws alone are not a bad thing. If 30 points is the minimum number of points needed for safety, a team can draw all 30 games of a season and end up safe from relegation and “invincible”. The nature of the draws is what has been worrying for Brandon Truter’s men – with most of them coming after taking the lead.
23 – Swallows have dropped more points after scoring first this season than any other PSL side.
They’ve also set a record for most points dropped by a PSL top-flight team after scoring first in a single season (previous best was 20 points by Arrows in 2009/10). Such dropped points have made a Top 8 the ceiling, contributing to the anti-climatic feeling towards a side that entertained us so much earlier in the season.
Indeed, a win today will effectively secure their Top 8 status (TS Galaxy will then need to win all four remaining games with a +12 goal differential to pip Swallows into the Top8).
Yet, the window of opportunity is still open for Swallows to break the PSL record for points by a newly promoted side, but failure to win today will result in that window being closed.
52 – Most points won by a newly promoted side is 52, by Seven Stars in 1998/99 – Gavin Hunt started as Stars coach this season until November 1998, before Jeff Butler and Bruce Grobelaar managed the rest of the season.
That said, some lower hanging fruit is still available for them. The fact that most of the draws have been 1-1 draws highlight a consistency in scoring. Swallows have already set a new record for 1-1 draws in a single season (14) and are the only team yet to lose a game at home all season.
6 – Only six sides in PSL history have completed a top-flights season without a home defeat – Chiefs on three occasions (2004/05, 2012/13 and 2016/17), Pirates 2011/12, Ajax 2007/08 and Bush Bucks in 1997/98.
Their visitors today will be envious of their success, given that they are the predecessors to Swallows’ newly-promoted tag. After a solid, if unspectacular debut top-flight campaign in 2019/20, Stellenbosch are now in danger of relegation in just their second season. They desperately need the win, and could be dragged into the relegation zone if they fail to win and Chippa win later in the day.
9 – ‘Stellies’ are winless in nine league games, their worst run since their promotion last season.
Baroka v TTM
1 – Baroka have won just one home game this year (D4 L5 all comps), with that only win coming against Black Leopards.
Chippa v Bloem Celtic
0 – Bloem Celtic are the only side yet to win away from home in the league this season (D5 L8).
RELATED STORY: STATS: Pirates set new home record
By Opta Jabu