With their win on Tuesday night at Chatsworth Stadium, AmaZulu denied Arrows a fourth victory over them this season.
After beating Usuthu in both legs of the MTN8 semifinals as well as in the first half of the league season, Arrows would have been confident of putting another one over Neil Tovey’s team.
However, goals from Ayanda Dlamini and Marc van Heerden, that sandwiched an equaliser from Abafana Bes’thende left-back Mzuvukile Tom, handed the visitors victory.
AmaZulu got off to a flying start, with Ayanda Dlamini firing the ball past Helton Da Rocha to put the visitors a goal up inside the opening minute of the match.
Thokozani Mshengu almost inadvertently brought Arrows level with a floating cross in the 10th minute that forced Mbongeni Mzimela to tip the ball behind for a corner kick.
On 15 minutes Abafana Bes’thende drew level. Pere Ariweriyai fouled Richard Henyekane on the left flank and the striker proceeded to play a perfect in-swinging cross from the set piece that was headed home by left-back Mzuvukile Tom.
At the midway point of the first half Dlamini missed out on a good scoring chance, shooting wide from close range after some slack defending by the Arrows backline.
The score remained 1-1 up to the half time break.
Arrows took a more attacking approach in the second half, with coach Manqoba Mngqithi sending on striker Francis Kombe in place of defensive midfielder Bafo Biyela.
The bold approach almost paid dividends just before the hour mark when Kombe set up Henyekane for a strike at goal but the Bafana Bafana forward put his shot wide of the target.
Kombe then had a chance of his own just a couple of minutes later but his header went straight into the arms of Mzimela in the AmaZulu goal.
Usuthu’s Ngxabi was gifted a good chance on 62 minutes but he failed to hit the target from 10 metres out, and three minutes later van Heerden’s curling shot was turned away by Da Rocha.
However, van Heerden found the back of the net with just over ten minutes to play, scoring a beauty from a long range free kick after Siyabonga Sangweni had fouled Hadebe about 30 metres from goal.
On 84 minutes Henyekane almost found the back of the net from a free kick of his own but Mzimela was on hand to parry the ball away to safety. It was as close as Arrows got to finding an equaliser in the dying minutes as Usuthu held on for victory.