Stellenbosch FC continued their unbeaten start to the DStv Premiership when they were held 1-1 by hosts Baroka FC at a wet and windy Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Maroons missed out on the chance to go top of the log, but a return of 12 points from six matches represents enormous progress compared to last season, and sees them placed third on the log, with only the Tshwane duo of SuperSport United (better goal difference) and Mamelodi Sundowns (one more point, now with a game in hand) ahead of them.
Bakgaga Ba Mphahlele, meanwhile, recorded a first draw of the season to see them placed seventh on seven points.
Stellenbosch found their rhythm earlier than the hosts and claimed the lead as early as the ninth minute: a long throw-in ended with an effort from Stanley Dimgba, which was initially well saved by Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke, but Ashley Du Preez pounced on the rebound to score from close range.
Baroka responded well to going behind and claimed an equaliser on 20 minutes, with a counter-attacking move ending with Bernard Bobete sweeping home Evidence Makgopa’s assist to make it 1-1.
Inviting Stellies on and hitting them on transition was an effective tactic for Bakgaga, who created another dangerous opportunity on the half-hour mark, only for the visitors’ Ibraheem Jabaar to make a crucial intervention when a second goal seemed inevitable.
Baroka had further promising moments through Makgopa and Bobete, while a strong gust of wind blew advertising boards out of place and forced a temporary suspension of play, and the half ended with the teams locked at 1-1.
Both Baroka and Stellenbosch made tactical changes early in the second half – with Richard Mbulu and Judas Moseamedi introduced respectively – though the increasingly rainy and slippery conditions made it tough for any player to have a controlled impact on the game.
Baroka’s Denwin Farmer tested the palms of Stellenbosch replacement goalkeeper Sage Stephens a short while past the hour mark, while 10 minutes later the visitors threatened through Junior Mendieta and Mogamad De Goede, but Baroka’s defence held firm under pressure.
The best chance to claim a later winner fell to Bakgaga substitute Joslin Kamatuka, who had a clear sight of goal on 80 minutes when he arrived at the back post to meet Makgopa’s ball, but he struck his effort wide of the mark.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action after the international break, with Baroka away to SuperSport United on October 16 and Stellenbosch visiting Swallows FC the following day.
Baroka FC (1) 1 (Bobete 20’)Stellenbosch FC (1) 1 (Du Preez 9’)TEAMS:
Baroka:Masuluke, Mphahlele, Sibiya, Makume, Farmer, Masiya (Kamatuka 64’), Kambala, Bobete (Dlala 75’), Mokhabi (Mbulu 46’), Chauke (Gebhardt 89’), Makgopa
Stellenbosch:Langeveldt (Stephens 46’), Kwinika, Robertson, De Goede, Van Rooyen, Mendieta (Khunyedi 84’), Sinkala, Jabaar, Du Preez (Isaacs 71’), Adams, Dimgba (Moseamedi 54’)© Backpage TXT