Pretoria - Ajax Cape Town maintained their unbeaten record in the Absa Premiership when the 10-man Urban Warriors drew 1-1 against defending champions SuperSport United in a fast flowing clash at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday night.
Goal scorer Terror Fanteni was sent off in the 73rd minute for retaliation, but it had been one-way traffic for the Urban Warriors in the opening half.
They carved holes in the suspect home defence, but despite having a number of clear-cut chances, they failed to get a breakthrough and the longer the game went the more United gained in confidence.
United coach Gavin Hunt was forced to play with a makeshift centre back pairing of regular skipper Bongani Khumalo and regular midfielder Letladi Madubanya due to the suspension of Bafana Bafana central defender Morgan Gould.
Hunt changed things after the break by bringing on reliable defender Ricardo Katza, sacrificing striker Dipsy Selolwane and moving Madubanya to his more accustomed midfield role. This gave the champions more stability.
Khumalo headed a Thandani Ntshumayelo free kick over the Ajax crossbar in the eighth minute as United looked for an early opening goal.
Two minutes later Ajax opened up the United defence when Thulani Serero set up Paul Rusike in front of goal. United keeper Wayne Brown, however, did well to turn Rusike’s pile driver for a corner.
Sameehg Doutie missed the first of a trio of chances when his shot was charged down on the way to goal in the 12th minute.
A minute later Clayton Daniels watched as his glancing header inched past the SuperSport post. It was the big defender’s last act as he was forced to leave the field with an injury, replaced by Mario Booysen.
In a rare attack, United midfielder Jabu Maluleke saw his powerful shot scream over the bar in the 21st minute.
Doutie hung his head after receiving a defence splitting cross from Serero. With the open goal gaping at him he slipped two metres from the goalline and the chance was lost.
He missed again two minutes later when he fired past the post after another great cross from the hard working Serero.
United finally got the breakthrough when Ethiopian striker Lemessa Fikru rounded goalkeeper Hans Vonk after collecting a loose ball and slammed home the opening goal in the 60th minute.
Ajax, however, hit back five minutes later when Rusike thumped his shot against the post. From the rebound Fanteni scored perhaps the easiest goal of his career when he tapped home the equaliser from the goalline to make it 1-1.
Fanteni, now the top scorer in the Premiership with four goals, blotted his copybook when he was sent off by referee Jacob Frolick for an off the ball incident when he retaliated after a foul.
Ajax's exciting 20-year-old prospect, Serero, showed his inexperience in the 80th minute when he raced into the United penalty area but took too long to pull the trigger.
A minute later United substitute Anthony Laffor wasted a chance to score when with the goal at his mercy, shooting over the crossbar.
Then Serero showed his skills by weaving through the bemused United defence and set up another substitute in Khama Billiat whose shot from close range in the 83rd minute was well saved by Brown.
Veteran Vonk saved a point for Ajax with a stunning save off a Khumalo header three minutes from time.