Stars, Maritzburg share spoils
Jackson Mabokgwane (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Platinum Stars maintained a reputation of being a difficult team to beat at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in their 1-1 draw with Maritzburg United in Wednesday night's Premier League game.
There was little separating the two teams who occupy positions in the bottom half of the PSL log, with the sides evenly-matched looking increasingly more content with a share of the points.
Respective goalkeepers Francis Chansa of Maritzburg United and Platinum Stars' Jackson Mabokgwane mostly appeared as no more than onlookers as they only had three saves to make between them during the 90 minutes.
Visiting team Maritzburg United broke the deadlock when former Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Kurt Lentjies slotted the ball into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area in the 27th minute.
Lentjies was one of the busiest players on the field and was here, there and everywhere while displaying a series of deft touches.
But the diminutive midfielder's moments of inspiration were not emulated by his team-mates and it was Stars who came more into the picture in the second period.
They opened the way for Innocent Mkhabela to equalise following a neat through-pass in a packed penalty area in the 50th minute from Terrence Mandaze.
From this point a draw always appeared the likeliest result with both teams apparently content with a point they believed would ease them away from any pending relegation problems.
However, with bottom clubs Jomo Cosmos and Black Leopards gaining three points against Bidvest Wits University and Santos, the far from secure Stars and Maritzburg might have second thoughts about their safety-first approach.
As it was, the game produced only 13 realistic scoring opportunities, with a mere three of them on target.
It left both teams with 24 points from their 22 Premier League matches, with Stars remaining in 11th position via a slightly superior goal difference and Maritzburg in an uneasy 13th place.
Again in charge of Stars was assistant coach Cavin Johnson as head coach Owen de Gama remains under suspension while he awaits a disciplinary hearing in 10 days time.
Possibly more secure on the Maritzburg bench was German-born coach Ernst Middendorp, who is in the midst of a second tenure at the helm of the team.
But no coach bogged down by relegation fears can ever feel totally secure.