CAPE TOWN – Free State Stars and Cape Town City shared the spoils after a 2-2 draw at Goble Park in Bethlehem on Wednesday night.
The Cape side took an early lead and was then fortunate to grab a point at the death: they struggled to cope with the aggression and physicality of the robust Stars outfit.
But, if there’s one thing this fixture highlighted, then it’s the fact that speed is a fantastic asset to have in a football team. Both City and Stars had a player capable of blinding pace and able to ghost beyond opponents: for the Free Staters, Sinethemba Jantjie was just brilliant out wide; lightning-quick, he troubled the City defence all night and delivered some really threatening crosses too.
Jantjie was definitely the best player on the pitch. At the other end, City winger Craig Martin proved just as dangerous as he regularly slalomed past his markers to create promising situations.
The other talking point of the match involved an incident between the two captains – City’s Roland Putsche and Stars’ Paulus Masehe. Five minutes before half-time, Masehe crashed into Putsche with a brutal studs-up tackle; the challenge clearly had the potential to end the Austrian’s career.
But, bizarrely, the referee chose to yellow card Putsche, the wrong man, while Masehe got off scot-free for a tackle that certainly warranted a red card. Moments later, Putsche succumbed to the injury and was replaced by Thabo Nodada.
City took a 1-0 lead as early as the fifth minute when Stars goalkeeper Olivier Kwiziera failed to gather a free-kick from Ayanda Patosi, and Matthew Rusike was able to pounce and tap in the loose ball. The Free State side rattled back and had a few good opportunities, with Jantjie and Judas Moseamedi failing to make the most of it.
At the same time, new City goalkeeper Peter Leeuwenburgh demonstrated just why he has made such a great impact since his arrival from Ajax Amsterdam last month. Stars’ Makhehlene Makhaula thundered in a superb volley that looked headed into the top corner, only for Leeuwenburg to pull off a great save.
Not to be outdone, Kwiziera showed that his howler in the first half which resulted in the City goal was not an indication of his true ability, as he too saved brilliantly to stop a curling shot from Patosi in the opening moments of the second half.
Masehe was then involved in yet another cruel, crunching tackle on Nodada and it was a miracle that he managed to stay on the pitch. The referee’s leniency to Masehe paid off when the Stars skipper flicked on a header in the 58th minute and Bangaly Keita scored to level at 1-1. Eight minutes later, Stars’ took a 2-1 lead as Sthembiso Dlamini bent a wonderful shot into the top corner.
Fortunately, for City, luck was on their side. With the last kick of the game, the ball struck the Stars crossbar and, when the ball bounced back, it ricocheted off the back of Kwiziera and into the net. City won’t mind, though: they all count, it doesn’t matter how the goal is scored.