JOHANNESBURG, February 4 – Kaizer Chiefs ended the weekend seven points behind league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns following a 1-1 Premiership draw away to Bidvest Wits at on Saturday evening.
It was a fair result which saw both sides having their periods of dominance, although the point earned suited neither the struggling defending champions, nor the title hopefuls from Soweto.
The Students were on top for most of the first half, but struggled to click up front and barely tested Amakhosi keeper Itumeleng Khune.
The first chance of the night fell to Chiefs striker Gustavo Paez in the 13th minute, but his tame effort didn’t trouble Wits custodian Darren Keet.
Khune then kept out Edwin Gyimah from range before the Students’ hard-man fired a second shot over the bar.
After Kgotso Moleko had gone close with a long range cracker, the Soweto side took the lead against the run of play when Siphiwe Tshabalala’s inviting cross was headed in on the run by Ryan Moon five minutes before the break.
James Keene wasted a gilt-edged chance to level the game two minutes after half time when he dragged his shot wide after Daylon Claasen’s clever through ball.
The hosts finally got the breakthrough in the 54th minute when former Amakhosi striker Lehlohonolo Majoro reacted sharply to head in Sifiso Hlanti’s near-post cross.
After Gabadinho Mhango failed to capitalise on a mistake by Chiefs defender Lucky Ngezana, Moon spurned a fairly simple chance when he headed well over the bar from eight-yards out, completely unmarked in the Wits box.
Steve Komphela’s side went looking for the winner and substitute Siphelele Ntshangase was denied by a good save by Keet, who also bravely blocked Leonardo Castro at close range eight minutes from time as the rain came pouring down in Johannesburg.
It almost ended badly for the Glamour Boys when Bongolethu Jayiya’s 90th minute sliding clearance on a Claasen cross flew past Khune’s upright by a matter of inches.
Claasen also had a late shot saved by Khune as Chiefs had to hold on for the point.
Orlando Pirates held off a spirited fight-back from Maritzburg United to keep their title hopes alive with a 2-1 league win at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
The visiting side only really came to life after finding themselves 2-0 down in the second half after goals from Thabiso Kutumela and Happy Jele. But although former Kaizer Chiefs defender Siyanda Zulu pulled one back, Pirates were able to hang on for the three points which leaves them five behind league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
Maritzburg contributed to an exciting and opening 20 minutes of the game, but as proceedings wore on it was evident that Pirates were in command and the more threatening team, playing some enterprising football on a wet surface.
They were rewarded by taking a 30th minute lead when Kutumela neatly curled in a free kick at Richard Ofori’s near post.
It could have been 2-0 eight minutes later, after some scintillating football from the hosts, Luvuyo Memela crossed for Kutumela, but his goal-bound shot brought out an agile stop from Ofori.
It didn’t take long though for the Buccaneers to increase their lead –Jele’s powerful header from a Memela corner two minutes after the interval putting the Soweto giants firmly in the driving seat.
The deficit was nearly reduced on the hour mark when Bandile Shandu smashed a 25-yard drive against the woodwork, before debutant William Twala sent a shot into the side-netting for the visitors.
The pressure continued from the Pietermaritzburg men as Mxolisi Kunene brought out a diving save from Bucs stopper Jackson Mabokgwane from a free kick.
The Team of Choice were indeed able to pull one back in the 70th minute when Xulu’s thumping header from an inviting Deolin Mekoa free kick flashed past Mabokgwane and into the net – game on as Xulu grabbed the ball and raced back the half way line.
There were some anxious moments for Pirates late on, including a Mekoa shot which cannoned into the upright in added time, before they were able to make it to the finish line with their lead intact
Other results to hand of Saturday’s PSL Absa Premiership matches played around the country:
At Lucas Moripe Stadium:
SuperSport 4 Bloem Celtic 2
At Goble Park:
Free State Stars 2 Baroka FC 0
At Bidvest Stadium:
Bidvest Wits 1 Kaizer Chiefs 1
At King Zwelithini Stadium:
Amazulu 2 Golden Arrows 1