PORT Elizabeth soccer outfit Bay Stars kicked off their Eastern Cape Second Division league campaign on a high note when they defeated Mthatha Bucks 1-0 at the Mthatha Rotary Stadium on Saturday.
Stars finished fourth in the league last season, shattering their hopes of qualifying for the playoffs.
On Saturday, however, Stars made their intentions of contesting this season's promotion playoffs clear as they dominated possession in the first half.
Both teams played the first 45 minutes of the game at a high tempo in the midfield area.
Stars midfielders Leroy van Rensburg and Nkosinathi Speelman had goal-scoring chances in the first 20 minutes but they were denied by the home side.
Bucks played counter-attacking football, using their fast strikers, but Stars were well organised in defence.
The first half ended with a goalless scoreline.
The visitors applied more pressure on Bucks in the second half as they sought the opening goal.
Midway through the second half, Van Rensburg confused the Bucks' defence with great footwork to create a through ball for former Kaizer Chiefs striker Siyabulela Songwiqi to score a cracker from outside the penalty box.
The goal was a wake-up call for Bucks and they fought hard to equalise, but Stars goalkeeper Sheldon Baatjies showed his experience by saving two direct shots with excellent stops.
Coach Mark Harrison said he was extremely proud of the victory in his first match as head coach of the Stars.
Stars will play their next game without Siphesihle Stuurman, who was given a red card for time-wasting.