JOHANNESBURG – Baroka FC, without suspended coach Kgoloko Thobejane for a fifth game now, earned a point away from home when they held reigning Absa Premiership champions Bidvest Wits to a 1-1 draw here.
Thobejane was pulled away from his dugout duties early last month for allegedly drinking on the bus drive while returning home from a 2-0 defeat against Free State Stars. The club has since terminated the contracts of goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke and captain Olaleng Shaku – for boozing alongside the coach.
Thobejane remains suspended.
But the team continues fighting for a top eight finish and have been impressive in the aftermath of the drinking allegations.
The stalemate here at Wits was among one of the performances they will cherish, having gone toe-to-toe with a side that has also turned around their woeful start to the season and are now searching for a place in the top eight as well.
Wits broke the deadlock in the 11th minute through winger Sifiso Myeni, who benefited from a goalmouth scramble to squeeze the ball under Ayanda Dlamini.
The visitors could have replied almost immediately, but their goalkeeper Darren Keet was alert to deny striker Gift Motupa from close range.
Motupa returned to face off against Keet minute later, but the shot stopper produced heroics to shut down Motupa with a double save.
Baroka finally got the equaliser after putting pressure on the Wits defence – midfielder Robin Ngalande forcing Daylon Claasen to go in for a late tackle, which led to a penalty.
Motupa fancied his chance yet again and beat Keet this time round to level matters.
The second half was a little more dramatic – fewer attempts, but with the referee being put in the spotlight.
With Wits being denied a penalty after Abednego Mosiatlhaga went tumbling down, Baroka went on to score at the other end from the long clearance, but were flagged to be offside even though it looked to be the wrong call.
The referee only gets to see it once but that didn’t stop both benches from throwing their toys out the cot in that moment.
In the end Wits could not use home ground advantage to collect more points in their attempts to consolidate a top eight finish, while Baroka will be happy with their week having beaten Cape Town City 2-0 on Tuesday and then coming here and grabbing a precious point.