NELSPRUIT – Bidvest Wits coach Gavin Hunt was left a frustrated man as his side drew 1-1 with his former club SuperSport United in a controversial league encounter at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday evening.
The draw leaves Wits on 48 points, five points behind league leaders Orlando Pirates, with both clubs having two matches to play. Mamelodi Sundowns are second with 50 points, with three games remaining.
In what was a close-fought 90 minutes, Clayton Daniels equalised for SuperSport just before half time after Sifiso Hlanti’s 39th minute opener, before two contentious referee calls in the second half added more drama to a tense encounter in Mpumalanga.
Wits enjoyed most of the early openings, starting in the third minute when a Gabadinho Mhango shot was saved by Ronwen Williams, before Hlanti sent a rising shot over the bar and then Simon Murray failed to find the target with an 18th minute header.
Williams also made two saves in quick succession on a couple of Thabang Monare shots, before the deadlock was broken when the SuperSport keeper was only able to parry a stinging cross-come-shot from Mhango into the path of Hlanti, who reacted sharply to poke the ball into the net – finishing off the move he had instigated himself.
The Students were, however, unable to take their lead into the break as SuperSport equalised in the second minute of first half added time when Daniels headed in an Aubrey Modiba corner.
Modiba could have put Matsatsantsa ahead just after the restart, but on his weaker right foot, his effort from close range lacked conviction and defender Robyn Johannes was able to clear off the line.
Wits had a couple of moments in front of goal themselves, but the momentum was turning in favour of the Tshwane side, and they came close to scoring again when Evans Rusike's near post shot was saved by Ricardo Goss before an unmarked Daniels directed a header wide from the resultant corner.
There was also an effort which was not far off from Tebogo Mokoena.
But just as SuperSport were piling on the pressure, they suffered an unfortunate setback in the 64th minute when Dean Furman went flying into a tackle on Haashim Domingo – taking an elbow to his face in the process – only to be shown a yellow card for the initial incident before being sent off for his verbal reaction towards referee Phelelani Ndaba.
That did indeed serve to take the sting out of Matsatsantsa's attack and the match became increasingly edgy.
There was to be even more controversy over another match officials' call when Hlanti pulled the ball back for Terrence Dzvukamanja five minutes from time, the resultant shot hitting the underside of the bar before crossing the goal-line and bouncing back into play, but the goal was not given.
The Clever Boys continued to push for a winner, but there were no further clearcut chances as Hunt was left frustrated by the result against the club where he previously won three league titles.
African News Agency (ANA)