Johannesburg – David Mathebula struck with 11 minutes remaining to save SuperSport United from a shock defeat as the Premiership leaders settled for a 1-1 draw against newly promoted Mpumalanga Black Aces in Nelspruit on Sunday.
Both sides were sloppy in front of goal in the first half.
Eduardo Ferreira blasted wide to the left for Aces from close range in the eighth minute, with the first real attempt of the game.
Chances were created on opposite sides of the field in the 29th minute, with United's Bradley Grobler first having his sliding effort well saved, and then Abia Nale striking wide with only SuperSport keeper Rowen Fernandez to beat.
Aces took advantage of the poor showing on attack by the visitors when Mabhudi Khenyeza netted from a well-placed volley in first-half injury time to put the hosts in front.
United were far better in the second period, with Mor Diouf twice coming close within five minutes, but he fired both attempts over the crossbar.
Mathebula eventually found the equaliser in the 79th minute when he scored a clinical header.
Khenyeza could have put the home side back in the lead a few minutes later but he struck the ball too high in acres of space.
Mathebula also had an opportunity in second-half injury time, but he hit the post from long range as the points were shared.
United coach Cavin Johnson was not pleased with his team's performance as they dropped their first points of the campaign.
“I thought we played ok in moments but some of the players did not come to the party, which enabled Aces to get at us,” said Johnson.
“We were a bit slow to the ball today.”
Aces mentor Clive Barker was delighted to earn a point against the former three-time champions.
“This was a helluva game. It was a wonderful performance by our team,” said Barker.
“If you think some teams take 18 months to get to where we are, it was a great result.” – Sapa