Stars settled the quicker of the two teams and threatened an early goal through Moeketsi Sekola and Richard Henyekane, though goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe was up to the task.
The visitors gradually came into the game, with the lively Nkosinathi Mthiyane proving a thorn in the side of Stars’ defence, but he was not able to get the better of Glenn Verbauwede from numerous attempts in the first 45 minutes.
Bafana Bafana striker Bongani Ndulula probably had Usuthu’s best effort on goal in the first half, with his 34th-minute shot forcing Verbauwede into a sharp save.
Ea Lla Koto opted for a change in midfield at the start of the second half, with former Black Leopards and Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Tiyani Mabunda coming on for Katlego Mashego to make his league debut for the Free State side.
The teams continued to trade scoring chances, with Madondo notably denied by a fine save from Verbauwede early in the second stanza, while Mabunda and Henyekane went close with long range shots that weren’t far off the mark.
Usuthu enjoyed a strong period of dominance with about 15 minutes remaining as both Madondo and substitute Philani Shange were denied by fine saves from Verbauwede.