Maritzburg, Stars draw

It was Stars who drew first blood when Mpho Makola burst through the Maritzburg United defence before unleashing a powerful shot that left Michael Babale with no chance.

With the Free State side using a more defence minded approach, Maritzburg started the game being the more offensive of the two sides. It was only in the fourth minute that goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene was called into action having to save a dangerous header from Fadlu Davids.

In the sixth minute, Mweene almost turned villain when his attempted clearance fell for Elias Ngwepe. With Mweene off his line, Ngwepe, should have done better but the defender rifled a shot that went harmlessly off target.

In the tenth minute, a Stars counter attack caught the Maritzburg defence flat footed and it was left to Sylla Mbemba to save the home side blushes with a timely clearance. Seven minutes later, Makola did not waste the chance when he found the space and went through the Maritzburg defence as easily as a warm knife would through butter.

An equaliser almost came from an unlikely source when Gary Goldstone’s free kick from 30 metres out went just wide off target. Stars took the narrow lead into halftime.

At the start of the second half, Stars wanted to surprise their hosts and in the meantime get a cushion goal but it was not to be as Saitjeni Tsotetsi hesitated and wasted a glorious opportunity when in the 52nd minute he found himself one-on-one with the Martzburg goalkeeper, his shot ending going in Babale’s hands.

In the 54th minute, the home side were awarded a free kick just outside Ea Lla Koto’s 18-yard area and Davids stepped up and rifled an impressive shot that left Mweene for dead to make the score 1-1.

Having at last found the back of the net, Maritzburg lifted their game and became more aggressive in their approach looking for a goal that would take away their relegation worries.

Stars should really thank their goalkeeper for saving them from a beating on numerous occasions. Zambian born, big framed goal-minder Mweene made some crucial saves as the Team of Choice turned on the pressure looking for a winner.

But there was one ball that Mweene had not even that slightest chance of saving in the 66th minute when he mistimed his run from a Maritzburg corner and the ball fell onto second half substitute, Fanyana Dhladhla.

The former Stars man failed to make his former team pay for their careless defending and squandered the chance with the goals wide open in front of him.

Maritzburg must have felt undone when referee Peter Mabuza ignored their penalty appeal in the 78th minute when Dhladhla was bundled down inside the box.

Mweene displayed his heroics once again in the 81st minute when he made a treble of saves denying Sipho Mngomezulu, Mbemba and Dhladhla any chance of sneaking past an all important winner.