AmaZulu and Stellenbosch played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in their DStv Premiership match at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Wednesday.
The Maroons twice claimed the lead, through goals from Ashley du Preez and Juan Ortiz, but Usuthu struck back via Matarr Ceesay and Thembela Sikhakhane to force a share of the spoils.
The result saw the Cape visitors stay in fifth place on the log, two points off second place, while the Durban hosts moved up to sixth, two points further back.
The teams cancelled each other out in the opening minutes, though Stellenbosch had the better half-chances – the most threatening of which saw Junior Mendieta fire a dangerous low ball across the face of goal, but it was just too strong for Ashley du Preez to get onto.
Yet du Preez was on hand to give the Maroons the lead in the 29th minute. A cross from Stanley Dimgba bobbled up between Juan Ortiz and Thembela Sikhakhane at the far post, but the loose ball fell kindly for du Preez to stroke from from close range to put the visitors 1-0 up.
Stellenbosch’s lead lasted just five minutes, with AmaZulu’s Matarr Ceesay capitalising from great set-up play by Luvoyo Memela and Siphelele Mthembu, as he stabbed a low shot past goalkeeper Sage Stephens to level the score at 1-1.
Usuthu looked the more dangerous team in what remained of the first half, though they created no further chances with which to test Stephens, leaving the score at one apiece at the interval.
Stellenbosch had the ball in the back of the net 10 minutes after the restart with Dimgba clipping the ball home from close range, but he was correctly flagged offside.
AmaZulu then opted for a triple change just before the hour mark, as Andre De Jong, Xola Mlambo and Abrahama Majok were introduced off the bench.
However, it was the Cape side who changed the game with a second goal. A breakaway from defence saw Dimgba tee up Ortiz, who showed great composure before striking a low shot past goalkeeper Veli Mothwa’s left hand for 2-1 in the 60th minute.
Three minutes later Ceesay had the chance to level for the second time, following great work down the left flank from De Jong to create an opening, but the Gambian struck his effort wide of the mark.
However, Usuthu kept plugging away and were rewarded with a second goal of their own in the 76th minute. De Jong was again the creator, this time slipping a well-weighted pass (albeit a deflected one) into the path of Sikhakhane in a crowded penalty area, and the defender provided a classy finish with his left foot for 2-2.
AmaZulu again pushed on from scoring an equaliser to have the greater momentum in what remained of the game, but ultimately the final whistle saw the score locked at two goals apiece.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming weekend, with AmaZulu visiting SuperSport United on Saturday afternoon and Stellenbosch away to Marumo Gallants the following day.
AmaZulu (1) 2 (Ceesay 34’, Sikhakhane 76’)
Stellenbosch (1) 2 (du Preez 29’, Ortiz 60’)
AmaZulu: Mothwa, Sikhakhane (Moleko 86’), Gumede, Xoki, Zulu, Moremi (De Jong 58’), Buchanan (Mlambo 58’), Makhaula, Memela (Majok 58’), Ceesay, Mthembu (Ntuli 74’)
Stellenbosch: Stephens, van Rooyen, Kwinika, Mcaba, van Heerden, Dimgba (Scott 73’), Mthethwa, Jabaar (Adams 90+3’), Mendieta (Khunyedi 85’), du Preez (van Wyk 85’), Ortiz
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