Sundowns, Arrows share spoils
Thamsanqa Gabuza of Golden Arrows battles with Jabulani Shongwe of Mamelodi Sundowns (Backpage)
Pretoria - Mamelodi Sundowns and Golden Arrows were forced to share the spoils in on Tuesday evening, after they drew their Premiership clash 1-1 at Loftus Versfeld.
Thamsanqa Gabuza handed the visitors the advantage late in the first half, but Mzivukile Tom put the Sundowns on level terms, scoring an own goal five minutes later, ensuring the tie ended in an entertaining stalemate.
Sundowns headed into the clash on the back of a 3-0 thrashing of Maritzburg United at the weekend, looking for their second straight victory, in order to consolidate their place in the top eight.
VIDEO: Sundowns v Arrows, highlights
Arrows, however, were aiming to bounce back from their 1-0 derby loss to AmaZulu, also over the weekend.
The hosts were in with their first opportunity barely a minute into the encounter, when Liberian winger Anthony Laffor
solid save from Arrows goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede.
Arrows were made to wait until the 16th minute for their first chance, as Bongi Ntuli was put through on goal from a quick counter-attack move, but drilled his shot straight at goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands
, who made a straightforward save.
Shortly after Downs striker Katlego Mphela
came close from a free-kick won by Laffor, who was brought down near the corner flag.Teko Modise
whipped in an accurate delivery, which Mphela met with his head, but was denied by a glancing header from an Arrows head, sending the ball out for a corner and out of danger.
The visitors thought they had broken the deadlock in the 31st minute when Gabuza netted for Arrows, but the celebrations were short-lived, as the assistant referee raised his flag and ruled that Gabuza was in an offside position.
Gabuza, however, reacted in the best possible fashion seven minutes later, when he was rewarded with a goal for his continued pressure on the Brazilians' defence.
The speedy attacker was put through on goal with a deadly through-ball from Sibusiso Hadebe, which unlocked the Sundowns defence, leaving Sandilands stranded at the back.
Sundowns would not have to wait long for the reply, however, as they benefitted from some unfortunate defending by Tom, who put the ball into his own net.
A patient build-up allowed Elias Pelembe to deliver a dangerous cross into the Arrows area, with the ball glancing off Laffor's head but away from goal.
Abel Mabaso remained alert and picked up the cross at the back post and drilled it at goal, taking a nasty deflection off the leg of Tom, who brought the scores level two minutes from the break.
Sundowns came out after the half-time interval and looked dangerous, as Dutch defender Alje Schut rose above the Arrows defence from a set-piece, but guided his header straight at Gumede, who made a simple stop.
The home side pushed for their second and came close in the 58th minute, after a superb interplay between Pelembe and Laffor resulted in Pelembe getting his shot away, but from a tight angle, which Gumede nevertheless punched away, keeping the scores unchanged in the second period.
Second half replacement Edward Manqele - who replaced Modise on the hour mark - made an immediate impression when he forced a strong save from Gumede, after the winger hit a thunderous effort at goal.
Gumede was kept busy by Manqele, who was brought down inside the penalty area by the keeper in the 70th minute, but the referee turned down claims for a penalty, allowing play to continue.
At the other end, Tshepo Liphoko saw his well-taken free-kick effort tipped over the bar by Sandilands, who had to make the crucial save to keep the scores level after 74 minutes.
Ntuli had his side's best chance of the half seven minutes from time, when he broke away from his marker and dispatched his effort goalwards, forcing a one-handed stop from Sandilands, who did well to keep out the striker's attempt.
The Brazilians replied with an attempt by Nyasha Mushekwi - another replacement - who had his shot saved by Gumede, who was left alone at the back by his defence.
If Mushekwi came close, Manqele came even closer a minute later when he beat Gumede from distance, but rattled the upright, coming agonisingly close to the winner.