PIETERMARITZBURG – Peter Shalulile scored in added time at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night to secure Highlands Park a 1-1 Premiership draw against Maritzburg United.
In a lively, evenly-matched and high-tempo affair with regular scoring chances at both ends, Kwanda Mngonyama gave the Team of Choice a 56th-minute lead, before Shalulile netted right at the death to silence the sizeable home crowd.
The first opportunity fell the way of Maritzburg after six minutes played, but from close range, Thabiso Kutumela fired his shot straight at goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
While United were enjoying more possession, Highlands Park were looking to profit on the counter-attack through the pace of Shalulile.
The Namibian was to have a series of chances midway through the half, with two of them sailing over the bar and another into the back of the net – only for the offside flag to go up.
Maritzburg came back into it in the minutes leading up to the interval, with New Zealand defender Dan Morgan having a couple of opportunities, one of which he fired over the bar, and the other a free kick which skimmed off the head of visiting defender Sifiso Mbhele and just wide.
The Lions of the North started strongly after the break, enjoying good ball possession, and having an opportunity on goal when Shalulile headed a cross just over the bar on 55 minutes.
But moments later against the run of play, the hosts were to take the lead when Miguel Timm beautifully threaded a ball through for Mngonyama, whose low angled shot deflected off the leg of Highlands skipper and former Maritzburg defender Bevan Fransman into the net.
The visitors were stung into action, and it took two fantastic reflex saves from Maritzburg keeper Richard Ofori to keep out a Shalulile shot and a misdirected header from his own defender Siyanda Xulu.
🗣️ Coach Eric Tinkler— Maritzburg United FC (@MaritzburgUtd) August 9, 2019
"I feel for the boys. They deserved a lot more than they got in the end. Overall we were the better team on the night. Disappointed, we had the chances and we could have won the game comfortably”#WeAreUnited pic.twitter.com/Cijdu3Vx5Q
Increasingly on the back foot and under pressure, United passed up on the chance to add a second goal when Rushine de Reuck’s header from a corner fizzed marginally wide with 12 minutes to play.
Bandile Shandu squandered another chance to score for the hosts before a second yellow card saw Mbhele sent off in the 90th minute.
But Highlands refused to give up, and after a scramble in the box in the 93rd minute, Shalulile was able to squeeze a low shot into the bottom corner.
African News Agency (ANA)