Black Aces and Platinum Stars played out a dour stalemate with neither team demonstrating the initiative and drive to be winners during a 1-1 draw at a soggy Mbombela Stadium on Friday night.
The conditions made the going difficult in a game that produced few goal-scoring opportunities and was contested in unproductive midfield for much of the 90 minutes.
Aces, however, will rue the opportunity of gaining three valuable points after Themba Zwane capitalised on a defence-splitting pass from Thabo Qalinge to give the home team a deserved 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.
It was a deflating own-goal in the 40th minute that cost Aces the ascendancy, with Method Mwanjali deflecting the ball into his own net following a corner from Stars' Tintswalo Tshabalala.
Aces goalkeeper, Jackson Mabokgwane, did not have a single save to make from an opposition player throughout the proceedings and looked on ruefully after being beaten by one of his own players with little chance of preventing the goal.
The lack of penetration in the open half was even more evident during the second period, with both teams appearing increasingly resigned to sharing the points.
And evidence of this frustrating lack of finishing power was the fact that Henrico Botes (Stars) and Mabhuti Khenyeza (Aces), who are considered key scorers of their respective teams, were substituted in the 73rd and 54th minutes respectively.
Despite the draw, Stars edged up from seventh place in the log to sixth position, while Aces improving from an uneasy 12th on the edge of the relegation zone to a more comfortable 10th standing.
Both teams had lost their previous Premiership game, with Stars going down to the University of Pretoria and Aces suffering a defeat against Bloemfontein Celtic to end what had been a succession of victories.
“We played a lot better than we did against Celtic,” said Aces coach Clive Barker.
“And but for that unfortunate own goal we would have been back on the winning trail against a team that is not easy to overcome.”
Stars, for their part, continue to struggle to capture the enterprise and precision that earned them MTN8 and Telkom Cup titles and eight draws are a reflection of their loss of what had been impressive scoring power. - Sapa