No island jaunt for Sundowns
Matthew Pattison (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The final scoreline of 3-1 suggests it was little more than what might be termed an island cruise for Mamelodi Sundowns against third division Island FC in the Nedbank Cup first round game at the Ulundi Complex Stadium in Kwanongoma on Sunday afternoon.
Don't you believe it. The affluent Premier League side were given a run for their money all the way, trailed until the 43rd minute and only went into the lead for the first time in an evenly-congested game when former Newcastle United midfielder Matthew Pattison scored the second of his two goals with a touch of professional composure that reflected the experience he gained in English football.
Pattison, indeed, was the man-of-the-match for Sundowns coming to light shortly before half-time with an emphatic headed goal when Sundowns were begining to look more than a little edgy and concerned.
The near-capacity crowd at the compact 10 000-seater stadium roared in delight in the 20th minute when Lingani Zungu guided the ball past Sundowns goalkeeper Brian Baloyi to give the home team a surprise lead.
And for some time after this setback, Sundowns looked harassed and rattled and hardly looked like equalising.
The game, however, took a decisive turn after an hour's play, with Zambian Felix Katongo making the score 3-1 only three minutes after Pattison had completed his brace of goals.
The gallant minnows from Kwanongoma, however, never gave up the chases and came tantalisingly close to reducing the deficit in the closing minutes when the Sundowns defence found themselves at sixes and sevens.
Sundowns seemed to benefit from the second-half changes made by caretaker coach Trott Moloto when a couple of players who looked decidedly rusty after being out of first-team action for some time were substituted. And the arrival of Benedict Vilakazi, in particular, inserted a fresh degree of purpose into the Brazilians' build-ups.
And considering Sundowns were playing without as many as eight players on Bafana Bafana training duty in Germany, they might not feel unhappy regarding their overall performance as they go forward into the last 16 round of the competition.