This game was certainly one of two halves as Thanda looked the livelier of the two in the first 45 minutes, constantly on the attack and threatening the visitors. However, the tone of the match changed somewhat in the second half as Arrows took control and began to dominate.
Thanda’s early dominance paid off when they took the lead in the eighth minute through Nkosinathi Nhleko. A beautiful through-ball from the back put Nhleko through on goal with only the keeper to beat, and he made no mistake, finishing expertly as he slipped the ball past an on-rushing Brenden Wardle.
Their lead did not last long as Arrows drew level five minutes later from the penalty spot after some controversy. The penalty was correctly awarded after the referee adjudged Ahmed Mohammed to have fouled an Arrows attacker.
Richard Henyekane stepped up to take the spot-kick, but missed on the first attempt after a brilliant save from Mandlenkosi Tsengwa. The referee, however, allowed him to retake the penalty because of players entering the box too early, although they were mostly Arrows players. Henyekane made no mistake the second time round, burying the ball into the back of the net.
Nhleko should have regained his side’s lead two minutes later when a free-kick found him unmarked inside the box six yards out from goal, but he headed the ball inches wide.
Thanda were all over Arrows in a free-flowing game, but the second half was a different story.
The Thanda defence looked at sixes and sevens and almost paid for their drowsiness in the 49th when a mistake at the back allowed Henyekane through on goal. Luckily for Roger Palmgren’s men, the striker has lacked form of late and squandered the one-on-one opportunity as he put his effort wide of goal.
Despite Arrows’ control, it was Thanda who took the lead in the 63rd minute. Phil Evans showed some heroic traits, playing in the middle of the park for his side that lacked a decent defensive midfielder, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a goal – a low, ferocious shot from 30 yards out that sailed past a diving keeper.
This time the Thanda lead lasted 18 minutes before Arrows substitute Francis Kombe found the back of the net. Again a long-range effort resulted in a goal, but this time luck played a part. Kombe let fly from 25 yards and his shot deflected off the outstretched leg of Evans and past the keeper.
Arrows thought they clinched the game in the dying minutes when a Kagiso Dikgacoi cross was headed home by Philani Shange, but the goal was disallowed and ruled offside … wrongly so.