Golden Arrows had to fight off a determined challenge from second-tier Pretoria Callies to secure a 2-1 triumph after extra time in a Nedbank Cup last 32 match played at Princess Magogo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Abafana Bes’thende looked in danger of a surprise defeat at the hands of their Motsepe Foundation Championship visitors, who took an early lead via Eric Dubula’s penalty, but ultimately triumphed thanks to an own goal and a superb winning strike from Knox Mutizwa with just seven of the 120 minutes remaining.
The teams traded early chances, with Callies using width well to stretch Arrows’ defence, while the hosts were more than happy to shoot from long range, including an effort from Sazi Gumbi which flashed over the crossbar in the 11th minute.
Yet the Pretoria side claimed the lead on the quarter-hour mark, as Eric Dubula scored from the spot, sending goalkeeper Siyabonga Mbatha the wrong way with a classy finish. The penalty was awarded by referee Thabo Mkhabela after a mis-timed challenge from Arrows’ Lungelo Dube.
Arrows looked for a quick response and nearly came up with one midway through the first half when Sbonelo Cele shot direct on goal from a free kick, but Callies goalkeeper Edward Maova made a fine save.
Cele had another chance on the half hour mark when Maova’s attempted clearance from outside the box went straight to his feet, but the Arrows man put his effort wide of the unguarded goal from long range.
Abafana Bes’thende continued to build rhythm and attacking pressure as halftime approached, with Knox Mutizwa having two notable chances on 38 and 40 minutes (the latter of which forced a sharp save from Maova), but ultimately the interval saw Callies still 1-0 up.
Yet the hosts needed just five minutes of the second half to draw level at 1-1, with Pule Mmodi driving down the flank and trying a shot from a tight angle which deflected off Kamogelo Mogaswa and found the back of the net for an own goal.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Arrows had further chances from Siyabonga Khumalo, Mutizwa and substitute Ryan Moon, but Callies stood firm to keep themselves on level terms through the remainder of the second half, forcing an extra 30 minutes of play.
The top-flight team kept up the pressure in extra time but were unable to break the deadlock in the first half. However, on 113 minutes they were finally rewarded for their persistence, as Mutizwa found the top corner with a shot direct from a free kick to put Arrows 2-1 up.
The final minutes were frantic, with Callies pushing forward aggressively to try and force an equaliser, which in turn led to chances on the break for Arrows, but neither side was able to show enough composure in the crucial areas to change the score line, leaving the Durban hosts to advance into the second round proper.
Arrows will return to DStv Premiership action on Sunday 19 February with a match away to Kaizer Chiefs, while Callies’ next Motsepe Foundation Championship match is at home to Platinum City Rovers on Saturday 18 February.
Golden Arrows (0) (1) 2 (Mogaswa 50’ og, Mutizwa 113’)
Pretoria Callies (1) (1) 1 (Dubula 15’ pen)
After extra time
Golden Arrows:Mbatha, Cele, Mantshiyane, Hlatshwayo, Mjengu (Ndlovu 82’), Dube (Magawana 55’), Gumbi (Nkosi 91’), Khumalo (Moon 82’), Mmodi, Lunga, Mutizwa
Pretoria Callies:Maova, Georgiades, Mogaswa, Ismail, Noge (Ralenkoane 93’), Kwayiba, Mbatha, Dubula (Appollis 63’ [Mbidana 110’]), Menziwa (Nkwe 46’), Jacobs (Raphadu 63’), Mthembu (Luthuli 110’)
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