Highlands Park successfully booked their place in the Absa Premiership for the 2016/17 season following a 2-0 win over Mbombela United at Makhulong Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Peter Shalulile continued his goal-scoring form for club and country, bagging a decisive brace in Tembisa.
The result also confirms the University of Pretoria’s relegation to the National First Division where they will join Mbombela United next season.
Following two wins from their opening two fixtures, the Lions of the North were in pole position to win the Premier Soccer League promotion/relegation playoffs heading into the midweek clash, and took full advantage of an early mistake by the visitors to confirm their place in South Africa’s top flight.
A poor clearance by Thato Xaba fell at the feet of Shalulile who made no mistake, guiding the ball into an empty net on 13 minutes.
Desperate to put the blunder behind them, Mbombela pressed forward and went close in the 21st minute. Lebohang Maboe’s first-time shot was parried by Tapuwa Kapini and into the path of Inky Masuku who failed to hit the target from an acute angle.
Nicolas Boke denied his own man a goal eight minutes later, Simphiwe Tshabalala’s rasping effort looked destined for the back of the net, but the ball hit the Democratic Republic of Congo striker.
Mbombela pressed forward following the break in an attempt to keep their ambitions of top flight football alive, but Highlands Park’s defence – brilliantly marshaled by Jermaine Christian and Rudi Isaacs – held firm. Having absorbed a sustained spell of pressure from the visitors, Shalulile provided the knockout punch with eight minutes of regulation time remaining.
The Namibia international burst through the heart of the Mbombela defence before slipping the ball past the onrushing Xaba to send the home fans into delirium.
Baroka FC were crowned 2015/2016 NFD champions with Highlands finishing a single point behind the Limpopo outfit.