Gavin Hunt's Bidvest Wits fought back to hold hosts Highlands Park 1-1 in a Premiership match at Makhulong Stadium on Tuesday. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

TEMBISA – Bidvest Wits fought back to hold hosts Highlands Park 1-1 in a Premiership match at Makhulong Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Both teams’ goals came via the penalty spot, with Peter Shalulile giving the Lions of the North the lead late in the first half, while the Clever Boys’ Thabang Monare equalised in injury time at the end of the game. The result leaves the respective teams tied on 16 points in sixth and fifth place respectively.

The tackles were flying in from the early stages in this Gauteng derby, and Wits’ Cole Alexander picked up a booking as early as the ninth minute for a clumsy lunge on Sphiwe Mahlangu.

Yet it was the Clever Boys who were the more pro-active team for most of the first half, with Deon Hotto and Gift Motupa calling goalkeeper Marlon Heugh into action on a couple of occasions within the opening half hour.

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Highlands upped their game in the final 15 minutes of the first half and Wits goalkeeper Brandon Petersen began seeing a lot more of the ball. Yet he was helpless to prevent the Lions of the North claiming the lead on 41 minutes, with Peter Shalulile converting from the penalty spot after an infringement in the 18-yard area.

The host led 1-0 at the break, fully capitalising on the momentum built late in the first half. The second stanza opened with Wits coach Gavin Hunt opting for a switch upfront, swapping out Motupa for Mxolisi Machupu.

The University-based side began stringing together some fine attacking moves, though too often they were let down by poor execution in the final pass, cross or shot. This moved Hunt to make another change, bringing on veteran winger Elias Pelembe, a player renowned for the quality of his delivery.

Wits duly sharpened up in the final third, but they found Heugh a tough barrier to get past, with the Highlands ‘keeper pulling off several solid saves in the final quarter of the match. However, he was finally beaten from the penalty spot in injury time, with Thabang Monare converting after a debatable late call from referee Victor Gomes.

Highlands will be back in Premiership action on the weekend when they face Cape Town City away from home, while Wits will open their Car Confederation Cup group stage campaign with a home clash against Horoya AC of Guinea. 

African News Agency (ANA)