League leaders Wits were frustrated at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday as Polokwane City hit back with a late equaliser to earn a 3-3 draw.
The Limpopo team had been 2-0 up before the half-hour mark, through Bongile Booi and Sammy Seabi, only for a quick-fire brace from Gift Motupa to level matters at the interval.
The Johannesburg side then went in front for the first time through a Thulani Hlatshwayo shot on the hour mark, before a world-class free kick from Polokwane skipper Jabu Maluleke made it 3-3 with 11 minutes to play.
The home team looked up for it early on and could have been in front after 11 minutes had Mohamed Anas kept his volley on target, before they again came close three minutes later when the Clever Boys only just managed to clear their line from a corner kick.
Wits’ best moment of the opening stages of the game came when Motupa skipped past a handful of defenders before squaring the ball right across the goal-line, without being able to find one of three teammates.
However, there could be no denying that Rise and Shine had made the brighter start, and they drew first blood in the 23rd minute when Booi rose well to beat Darren Keet to Maluleke’s free kick and head the ball into the net.
The lead was doubled just five minutes later, Maluleke again the provider from a free kick, but this time it was Seabi who powered in a header – with the Students looking shaky at the back in the absence of the suspended Robyn Johannes.
With a two-goal cushion, Polokwane seemed to switch off somewhat, and their complacency cost them after Motupa was given too much space on the edge of the box, allowing him to capitalise in sensational style with a scorching drive into the top corner as the Clever Boys reduced the deficit on 34 minutes.
And just four minutes later, the game was back on even terms when Motupa was able to head home a Deon Hotto corner after being left unmarked eight yards out.
Wits thought they had turned things completely around in the 41st minute when Lehlohonolo Majoro found the net, but the goal was correctly ruled out as Hlatshwayo had been in an offside position earlier in the move.
It was Hlatshwayo – who as the captain and central defender would have been stung by the Polokwane City goals – who put the visiting side ahead for the first time in the game, the Bafana international slotting home from close range after a mistake by home defender Simphiwe Hlongwane.
The Students remained on top, and Hotto was unlucky not to add a fourth goal when he sent a thundering shot from range against the crossbar, before Motupa’s volley was expertly-saved by home keeper George Chigova.
However, Polokwane were far from beaten, and after Keet had somehow kept out Seabi, the Limpopo club were back on level terms in the 79th minute when Maluleke scored a contender for goal of the season with an unbelievable free kick into the top corner from around 35 metres out.
Wits thought they had grabbed a late winner when Haashim Domingo scrambled the ball home, but the goal was once more correctly ruled offside.
The league front-runners moved four points clear of Orlando Pirates, rather than the six-point gap for which they had hoped.
African News Agency (ANA)