Cape Town - Golden Arrows emerged victorious in a closely-fought encounter against Bloemfontein Celtic in the Nedbank Cup quarter-final on Saturday that ended 2-1.
It was a match of attrition from the start and only really came alive as a contest in the final 20 minutes when Knox Mutizwa opened the scoring. Bongani Sam leveled the scores in the 81st minute before Mutizwa added his second to secure the win in the first minute of stoppage time.
Neither side was willing to over-commit and potentially make a mistake that could allow a goal and the result was not a particularly entertaining encounter for the fans hoping to see a lot of action.
For the purists, though, there was some very well-organised and physical defending on display and the midfield battle was as intense as it was a joy to watch with neither side able to claim the upper hand. Unfortunately, that meant very few attempts on goal.
Of the early chances, Velemseni Ndwandwe had the best of it for the visitors around the half hour mark with Arrows moving into a swift counter attack. The midfielder had a chance, but failed to show enough patience to wait for a proper opening and ended up blasting his shot into a defender.
After half time it was more of the same up until around 60 minutes in, when Celtic seemed to shift up a gear. Obviously wanting to avoid extra time and penalties they started moving players higher up the pitch and looked more dangerous.
Unfortunately the gamble did not pay off, as it also left them more exposed at the back, which was exploited expertly by Mutizwa and Lerato Lamola in the 69th minute. The pair executed a neat passing move through the defence before Mutizwa slotted the ball neatly past Patrick Tignyemb to make it 1-0 to Arrows.
The home side responded magnificently, though, and were back on level terms just 12 minutes later. Ndumiso Mabena hit a powerful shot that Maximilian Mbaeva could save, but not control. The ball fell for Sam, who tucked it in to make it 1-1.
But Mutizwa and Arrows would have the final say in the first minute of stoppage time at the end of the game. The midfielder set up to take a free kick just outside the box and curled it around the wall in magnificent fashion to send his side into the Nedbank Cup semi-finals with a 2-1 win.