DURBAN – The winless drought of Bloemfontein Celtic must be infectious after the visitors neutralised Golden Arrows with a 1-1 draw in their Absa Premiership match in KwaMashu on Wednesday night.
Celtic came to the coast with one win in their last 11 league assignments, stretching back to last season.
They launched this season with a 1-1 result against Kaizer Chiefs, and followed that up with this draw.
A balanced first half saw limited goal-mouth activity. A neat header from Celtic striker Roggert Nyundu gave his team a seventh-minute lead, but that was cancelled by a penalty late in the half by Kudakwashe Mahachi.
Nyundu made a welcome return to Durban after a quiet spell with AmaZulu in the second half of last season in the First Division.
The former Black Leopards attacker saw little action in the green-and-white of Usuthu, and revelled in this starting run.
Partnered with Ndumiso Mabena, he saw enough of the early ball and thumped a free-kick into the near post that left goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede standing almost like a statue.
Arrows took a while to warm up to the challenge, with Mahachi finding winger Wayde Jooste with a floated ball, which was headed over after the latter ghosted into the box in the 14th minute.
Their other decent opportunity fell to striker Lerato Lamola, who blazed a shot over in the 30th minute.
From virtually nothing, the home team were gifted the leveller by their former player. Namibian international Deon Hotto shoved Jooste in the box, and referee Thando Ndzandzeka awarded the penalty, which Zimbabwean international Mahachi coolly slotted in.
There was greater initiative after the interval. A halftime pep talk by suspended coach Clinton Larsen might have had something to do with the mini turnaround.
Larsen and his deputy Mandla Ncikazi took in the action from the stands owing to their suspension in the opening match of the campaign, the fiery MTN8 cup defeat at Bidvest Wits.
Arrows tried to replicate that fearless showing on Wednesday night, but for chunks of this clash their passing was below par, while at other times Celtic were well organised to disrupt their momentum.
Some of that was down to the calming influence of holding midfielder Lucky Baloyi, the ex-Kaizer Chiefs player.
Lamola found more assistance during the last 20 minutes when Zimbabwean hitman Knox Mutizwa went in for Jooste.
They linked well for one clear-cut opening, which Mutizwa bundled over the bar.