Marumo Gallants remain the only winless team in the 2022-23 DStv Premiership after they were held 1-1 at the Peter Mokaba Stadium by Swallows FC on Sunday afternoon.
Bahlabane Ba Ntwa were on course for a first triumph when Sibusiso Kumalo put them ahead in the first half, but the Birds fought back via Mbulelo Wambi to salvage a share of the spoils.
The result at least sees Gallants rise off the foot of the table on goal difference (ahead of Chippa United and Sekhukhune United, who also have five points), while the Soweto side rises to seventh on eight points (ahead of Cape Town City, Golden Arrows and SuperSport United on goal difference).
The first shot on target came from Gallants’ Katlego Otladisa in the eighth minute, but his long-range effort was saved by Swallows goalkeeper Thakasani Mbanjwa.
The Birds had the ball in the back of the net on 20 minutes when Waseem Isaacs turned home Mwape Musonda’s header from close range, but the forward was correctly flagged offside by the referee’s assistant.
Six minutes later Gallants’ Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo sprang to life when he turned his marker on the edge of the penalty area and got away a left-footed shot from a tight angle, but Mbanjwa made another solid save to keep the score line blank.
Yet the momentum was very much on the hosts’ side and they finally broke through on 38 minutes, with Sibusiso Kumalo getting away from his marker to meet a free kick delivery from Otladisa and direct a header beyond the reach of Mbanjwa for 1-0.
Swallows looked for a response before the interval, but the closest they came was a shot direct from a free kick by Isaacs which flashed over the crossbar, leaving the score 1-0 in favour of Bahlabane Ba Ntwa at halftime.
Swallows opted for a triple change at the start of the second stanza, with Siyabonga Khumalo, Thato Makua and Givemore Khupe introduced to try and spark a fight back from the visitors.
Yet the first chance after the break came from Gallants’ Celimpilo Ngema, who tried from long range in the 50th minute but couldn’t quite keep his effort down.
The hosts appeared to have the game under control, but the Birds struck midway through the second half via Mbulelo Wambi, who picked up a superb ‘round the corner’ pass from Musonda before drilling a low shot which squeezed under Washington Arubi and trickled over the goal line for 1-1.
Swallows nearly claimed the lead with just under a quarter hour to play, as substitute Siboniso Mtshali got on the end of a knock-down from Makua and looked for an acrobatic volley, but his effort flashed just wide of the target.
Gallants themselves threatened from a set piece on 82 minutes when Sibusiso Sibeko met Joseph Molangoane’s delivery from a free kick, but his header was off target, while Swallows blew a great chance on 85 minutes when Musonda had only the ‘keeper to beat, but his tame shot was comfortably saved by Arubi.
The Birds had another goal disallowed for offside in injury time when Mtshali swept home Makua’s poked through ball, leaving the game to end all square at 1-1.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next weekend, with Swallows at home to Stellenbosch FC on Saturday 10 September and Gallants hosting Kaizer Chiefs the following day.
Marumo Gallants (1) 1 (Kumalo 38’)
Swallows FC (0) 1 (Wambi 66’)
Marumo Gallants:Arubi, Khiba, Hlatshwayo, Toure, Mabotja, Kumalo (Manaka 89’), Ndlondlo, Ngema (Maraisane 61’), Makudubela (Molangoane 61’), Otladisa (Sibeko 71’), Dion
Swallows:Mbanjwa, Lukhubeni, Letlabika, Sait, Allan (Khumalo 46’), Shwabule, Mthethwa (Khupe 46’), Wambi (Matsheke 70’), L. Mtshali (Makua 46’), Musonda, Isaacs (S. Mtshali 70’)