ATTERIDGEVILLE – An intense Tshwane Derby lived up to expectation here on Saturday night, with hosts and log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns in complete control, but allowing SuperSport United to score early to somehow walk away with a precious point in a 1-1 stalemate on Saturday.
The visitors survived an onslaught, although their early goal through Thabo Mnyamane as early as the 11th minute gave them enough of a cushion to come out with less of a bruising than should have been the case.
Sundowns, in their element when in attack, were playing to redeem themselves as the Absa Premiership title looked like it was slipping away earlier in the week following another 1-1 draw at home against Free State Stars on Wednesday night.
It was again the case in this match until talisman Percy Tau cancelled out Mnyamane’s goal by getting on the score-sheet with about 10 minutes left on the clock.
But Sundowns really had no business leaving it until that late to equalise, having completely dominated the game and not created enough clear-cut chances to be in the lead.
SuperSport were obviously unsettled because of their poor run recently, a rut they have not been able to shake off since reaching the final of the Caf Confederations Cup in November last year.
It’s a miracle they are in the top-eight bracket, although that could change by the end of the weekend.
Their rivals are in much better shape, some even calling them the champions elect. But the dropped points in just one week, first against Stars at Loftus and now here in Atteridgeville, will cast those predictions into doubt.
Sundowns have had to rely on one man throughout this championship chase, and while Tau – their leading goal-scorer now with eight goals – isn’t showing signs of slowing down, the over-reliance just isn’t going to be enough.
He was again at the thick of all their attacks here and pretty much pulling the strings.
But his only goal, which saved Sundowns their blushes, meant the Brazilians fell short of widening the gap on the chasing pack Maritzburg United, Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates.
To say coach Pitso Mosimane’s men are sitting handsomely at the top of the table would be an exaggeration. It’s squeaky-bum time.
At times they have relied on Khama Billiat, but he wasn’t at the races in this game and was forced out due to an injury much earlier in the second half.
Jeremy Brockie was signed in January to obviously help them improve, having done so well as a SuperSport United for the past three seasons.
But the Kiwi hasn’t found the back of the net since October in all competitions and is finding it difficult to open his Sundowns account.
He started on the bench here against his former teammates.
This was an intense Tshwane Derby, proving yet again why it is probably better value for money than the Soweto Derby between Chiefs and Pirates, which is up next weekend.
But SuperSport were too defensive on the night, understandable given their current predicament.
And Sundowns didn’t have the key to unlock that defence – Tau’s goal only enough for a point, which feels like a defeat when you are in a hotly contested title race.