No goals in battle of Stars
Tintswalo Tshabalala (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Last season's Premier League runners-up Platinum Stars maintained their unbeaten record this season with a dour goalless draw against Free State Stars at Goble Park in Bethlehem on Saturday.
But the "Battle of the Stars" was anything but that, with neither side demonstrating the enterprise or initiative to challenge strongly for the three points that were on store.
And Platinum Stars, despite remaining unbeaten in their four games, have now drawn three of these matches and are battling to recapture the attacking verve that highlighted their play last season.
It was home team Free State Stars, in the circumstances, who dominated play territorially in the opening half as Platinum Stars funneled back on defence and appeared satisfied to return home to Rustenburg with a share of the spoils.
Free State Stars had nine shots on target in the opening 45 minutes against one by Platinum Stars and although not unduly troubled, Platinum goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane did all that was asked of him in keeping a clean sheet.
If play was uninspiring in the first 45 minutes, it became even less eventful during the second period as Free State Stars appeared to become resigned to the tepid tempo and became as defensively-inclined as their opponents in trying to upstage opponents who remain one point superior to them in the log table.
Adding to the drab nature of play was the fact that the teams committed no fewer than 35 infringements, with Platinum Stars penalised 20 times and Free State Stars blown up on 15 occasions.
Platinum Stars belatedly demonstrated the skill and cohesion which they have become known for, in the last quarter of the match, with Malawian international midfielder Robert Ng'ambi coming close to breaking the deadlock in the 65th minute and the tireless Benson Mhlongo missing narrowly with a snap header five minutes later.
Not surprisingly in view of the lack of match-winning efforts, the game produced the seventh draw in the 15 games between the teams in PSL matches, with each having won four times to emphasise that little seperates these dimmed Stars whenever they are in action against each other.