Stars pegged back by Leopards
Free State Stars surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Black Leopards in an Absa Premiership match at Charles Mopeli Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
An early penalty from Kennedy Mweene and a second-half strike by substitute Zakari Morou had put Ea Lla Koto in charge of the game and seemingly headed for three points, but late goals from Mongezi Bobe and Itumeleng Duiker (the latter deep in injury time) handed Lidod Duvha a share of the spoils.
Leopards were the first to threaten, with Nkosiyabo Xakane forcing Stars goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene into a good save in just the second minute of the match – the Zambian had to tip the shot round his post for a corner kick.
Three minutes later, in Stars’ first genuine attack of the match, Leopards defender Vincent Mabusela was guilty of handling the ball in his own 18-yard area and the hosts were awarded a spot kick. Mweene duly buried the penalty in the seventh minute to make it 1-0.
Lidoda Duvha looked for a reply and on 24 minutes captain Mongezi Bobe very nearly handed it to them, driving a long range shot on target that forced Mweene into another fine save. Two minutes later Bobe curled a shot just over the target from a free kick.
Ea Lla Koto should have extended their lead in the 37th minute when Mzikayise Mashaba was presented with a shooting opportunity from about 10 metres out, but he pulled his effort wide of the goal with only ‘keeper Thabang Maluleke to beat.
Five minutes later Mabusela almost redeemed himself for giving away the penalty with a goal-bound shot that forced yet another good save from Mweene; the Stars goalkeeper was undoubtedly the best player of the first half, which ended with the hosts 1-0 to the good.
Stars threatened to extend their advantage early in the second half through near-misses by Mashaba and Enva Wiltwer, while Leopards looked to shuffle their pack with the introduction of striker David Zulu off the sub’s bench eight minutes after the restart.
But it was a Stars substitute who had the next major say of the game, as Zakari Morou made it 2-0 to the hosts on 69 minutes, turning home a low cross from Katlego Mashego. Nine minutes later Leopards pulled one back through Bobe, who fired a low shot beyond the reach of Mweene to make it 2-1.
The Limpopo side pushed hard for an equalising goal in the dying minutes and finally breached the Stars defence for a second time deep in injury time, as midfielder Itumeleng Duiker fired home a shot after good set-up play by Raymond Monama on the left flank. The match ended 2-2, with Stars and Leopards remaining in sixth and 14th place respectively.
Free State Stars (1) 2 (Mweene 7’ pen, Morou 69’)
Black Leopards (0) 2 (Bobe 78’, Duiker 90+3’)
Stars: Mweene; Makola (Mosikidi 75’), Sadate, Mhamha, Gcaba, Wiltwer (Morou 58’), Mashaba, Masehe, Mashego, Wome (Chivuta 72’), Manqele
Leopards: Maluleke; Mabusela, Khoza, Xakane, Mabunda (Monama 75’), Dzaga, Bobe, Duiker, Mapolisa, Manaka (Zulu 53’), Nkhatha (Ramagalela 75’)