Swallows fight back for draw
Siyabonga Nomvethe (Gallo Images)
Durban - AmaZulu and Moroka Swallows played to a 2-2 draw at the Moses Mabhida stadium on Sunday afternoon. Usuthu looked well set for the three-points on offer when they took a two goal lead, just before the hour mark.
But the visitors came back strongly in the closing half-hour to earn their first point of the season with a strike from Siyabonga Nomvethe and a stunning long-range effort from Gareth Ncaca who came on as a substitute in the second half.
The Manqoba Mngithi coached Amazulu generally bossed possession for nearly an hour but some poor decision making in the final third of play prevented them from shutting their opponents out in this encounter.
Amazulu opened the scoring when the Swallows back-four was not able to repel the well-worked move involving strikers Myron Shongwe and Ayanda Dlamini in the 12th minute.
Dlamini finished the move with an assured strike to take his tally of goals in the league to three.
Shongwe, Lehlohonolo Majoro and Pere Ariweriyai were the Usuthu's outstanding players of the first half. But captain Ariweriyai who was playing in central defence was unable to continue in the second stanza, because of a thigh injury he sustained near the interval.
AmaZulu continued with their lively showing in the second period and extended their lead in the 53rd minute with a goal from a set-piece.
Midfielder Ntokozo Sikhakhane sent in a well weighted ball into the Swallows area which defender Warren Bishop glanced beyond the reach of goalkeeper Aubrey Mathibe with his head.
Shortly after, AmaZulu's Lita Ngxabi hit a shot that clipped a defender and crashed onto the Swallows upright. Dlamini, who was following up, had his attempt cleared by a visiting defender, near the goal line.
At this stage the home team appeared to be cruising to another haul of three points from this home game,following their 3-2 win over Maritzburg United in their only other game at this venue so far.
But Swallows were handed a life-line in the 67th minute when their veteran striker, Nomvethe, fired home a spectacular volley from Giorgi Nergadze's accurate cross.
However, Amazulu should have re-instated their two goal cushion a minute later had defender Belux Kasonga not sent his strike over the Swallows cross bar from close range.
Relentless pressure from Swallows in the closing minutes eventually yielded dividends, deep into stoppage time. A mistimed clearance from an AmaZulu defender landed in the path of Ncaca who unleashed a cracking drive that beat Thembalethu Moses in the Amazulu goal all ends up.