Veteran striker Eleazar Rodgers rolled back the years to level matters for Free State Stars against Polokwane City on Wednesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Free State Stars edged one point clear of the relegation zone after salvaging a 1-1 league draw with Polokwane City at Goble Park on Wednesday night.

Ghanaian striker Mohammed Anas had notched his third goal in his last two matches to put the visitors in front on 62 minutes.

But Stars, who had looked the more dangerous team on the night, hit back in the 83rd minute through veteran marksman Eleazar Rodgers.

The home side were to enjoy the better of the first-half exchanges, but were unable to profit from several good scoring chances.

George Chigova was certainly the busier keeper, and he made an early save to keep out a Yusuf Jappie free kick, before Rodgers flashed a header over the crossbar.

Stars continued to cause problems for the Limpopo side’s defence, and a couple of minutes before the break, Chigova had to pull off a sensational stop as he dived full length to deflect a stinging half-volley from Sibusiso Hlubi away from goal.

Ea Lla Koto then came even closer to breaking the deadlock when in first half added time, Rooi Mahamutsa controlled a cross into the box before thumping a volley against the woodwork.

The Free Staters took their momentum into the second stanza and were again on the front foot.

But they were to suffer a sucker-punch just after the hour mark, when Polokwane scored against the run of play as Anas controlled a cross from Bongile Booi, before passing the ball into bottom corner of the net against his former club.

Stars should have levelled matters when Jappie whipped in a superb cross in the 73rd minute, but from right in front of goal, Michelle Katsvairo directed his header wide of the post.

The home side continued to press for the equaliser, and they had their reward eight minutes before the end of regulation time when an unmarked Rodgers headed emphatically past Chigova.

An attempted header from Simisani Mathumo back to Stars goalkeeper Samkelo Mbambo moments later nearly saw Booi sneaking in to score, but Mbambo saved his defender’s blushes with a brave block.

At the other end, the home side had opportunities to claim maximum points late on, but they found Chigova to be in uncompromising mood as he kept out efforts from Hlubi and Katsvairo, as well as saving Ayanda Nkili from netting an own goal.

African News Agency (ANA)