Johannesburg – Henrico Botes' second-half equaliser helped Bidvest Wits salvage a point against the University of Pretoria in a Premiership clash at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday evening.
Botes managed to claw Wits back into the clash after Atusaye Nyondo had put the visiting Tuks ahead with the game still in its infancy.
The lead remained until a quarter-of-an-hour into the second half as the Johannesburg outfit followed up their first win of the season over the weekend with a less impressive stalemate against their fierce rivals from Pretoria.
The visitors silenced the crowd in under five minutes thanks to some quick feet across the midfield, which allowed Geofrey Massa to deliver a well-weighted pass across the area, which found an unmarked Nyondo in the middle, making no mistake as he buried the ball past a helpless Jackson Mabokgwane.
Tuks rode their luck a little after going ahead, as the hosts began to assert themselves, but a lack of composure cost them time and again in the final third, with passes going astray and shots flying wide of goal.
A dangerous free-kick from skipper Sibusiso Vilakazi forced AmaTuks goalkeeper Washington Arubi into action shortly after. Tuks failed to handle the set-piece, leaving Arubi to palm away a bouncing ball.
Tuks were having a fruitful evening in attack and caused plenty of problems for the Clever Boys at the back.
Massa, however, missed a glorious opportunity to double Tuks' advantage when a mistake from Mabokgwane, who came tearing out of his area to clear a ball with a slide tackle, sent Nyondo clear through on goal but from an impossible angle.
An intelligent cross found Massa with a free header, but the Ugandan international failed to punish the goalkeeper shortly before the break.
Trailing at the break, Wits needed a quick reply to get themselves back in the game and almost did so three minutes into the second period.
Zambian international Chris Katongo picked up a loose ball inside the area after a goal-mouth scramble, and looked to dispatch it into an empty net, but a crucial block from Grant Kekana denied the veteran attacker, who was preferred ahead of Sthembiso Ngcobo.
Wits were threatening more often and Tuks, in particular, struggled with crosses and throw-ins into the area.
One such throw led to Botes' equaliser as a good ball across the box was headed down for Katongo, who had time and space to get his shot away in the 59th minute.
Arubi could not hold the Zambian skipper's thunderous effort and parried away the shot, only for an incoming Botes to side-foot into a vacant net and draw the hosts level.
With a sniff of the lead, the Clever Boys came agonisingly close to going ahead through Thulani Hlatshwayo on 69 minutes, denied only by the woodwork, after a superb header at the back post somehow stayed out.
Siyabonga Ngubane ensured that late drama was on the cards when he received his marching orders following a second yellow card, leaving Tuks to see out the last three minutes with 10 men.
The resulting free-kick, however, proved insignificant and provided the last action for the night, as the teams walked away with a share of the points. – Sapa