Witbank - Mpumalanga Black Aces' new coach Neil Tovey saw his side throw away a 2-0 lead against Vasco da Gama to settle for a disappointing 2-2 draw in their Absa Premiership clash played at the Puma Rugby Stadium on Sunday.
This was Aces first point of the season after four matches. But it was not so much a case of a point gained but two points lost.
But Tovey said afterwards he had something to work on.
“We should have sewn it up when We were 2-0 ahead and had a chance to make it 3-0. The penalty gave them a chance. It looked a deflection onto the hand (of Felix Musasa) but sometimes these decisions go for you and sometimes not.”
Vasco coach Carlos da Neves said he thought it was a fair result but admitted his side were lucky to get a penalty.
“At halftime we were 2-0 down and told the players to show character and stop giving away silly goals and the boys rose to the challenge.”
Tovey, the former AmaZulu and Mamelodi Sundowns coach who replaced Aki Ayiomamidis earlier this month, now faces unbeaten Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium in his second match in charge on Wednesday at 8pm.
Luck helped Aces to a 2-0 lead at halftime. But to be fair to Aces they had the newly promoted Cape Town side under pressure for most of the opening half and more than deserved their lead at the break.
The opening goal was a classic blunder from goalkeeper Posnett Omony in the 35th minute. The Ugandan keeper in clearing the ball blasted it straight at defender Mokete Tsotsetsi from the edge of the penalty area and despite the defender’s attempts the ball flew into the net.
It was poor communication from two experienced players who were both at fault for the opening goal.
Ace's second goal on the stroke of halftime was a deflected shot from Marawaan Bantam that foxed Omony and sailed into the net to give Aces a great platform to build on the second half. But the home side failed to capitalise and instead folded after the break and allowed Vasco back into the game.
Vasco never tested Aces keeper Denis Onyango and seemed contend to go through the motions and hope for a point at best.
Aces were always probing and looking to carve openings in the shaky visiting defence. Mpho Maleka wasted a free header in the 15th minute when he latched onto a good left wing cross from Vusiwe Masondo. But the Aces striker’s powder puff header was easily dealt with by Omony.
Omony did brilliantly to divert a glancing header from Brice Aka off a well struck Masondo free kick in the 23rd minute that had goal written all over it. But Aces pressure paid off when Omony and Tsotsetsi combined in a comedy of errors to gift the home side the opening goal 10 minutes form halftime.
Bantam came close with a well struck blow that missed the target by centimetres in the 44th minute but he was rewarded a minute later when his strike deflected past the stranded Omony to make it 2-0.
But Vasco fought back after halftime and Aces luck ran out when referee Victor Hlungwani awarded the visitors what looked a soft penalty when the ball struck Aces defender Musasa inside his penalty area.
Veteran former Bafana Bafana striker Sibusiso Zuma stepped up and stroked the ball home to give Vasco a lifeline from the penalty spot in the 61st minute. Two minutes later Vasco were level when super sub Brain Kgafane headed home a Zuma cross to make it 2-2.
Aces were then unlucky in the 69th minute when Lindokuhle Mbatha struck the woodwork and from the rebound Omony made another brave save, this time at the feet of substitute Lottie Phiri.
Vasco could have wrapped up the points in the 72nd minute when, with the goal at his mercy, Franois Adams headed wide from a corner.
Aces had Vasco under pressure at the death but failed to deliver the killer blow.