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Football | Absa Premiership

Paulus Masehe and Ruben Cloete © Gallo Images

Maritzburg, Stars draw to share lead



Maritzburg United moved up to the top of the Absa Premiership table log despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Free State Stars at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Friday night.

The home side took the lead midway through the second half through Mario Booysen, but failed to hold on to their lead, allowing Dove Wome to net the equaliser for the visitors.

The first half saw the hosts dominating the ball possession stakes, but they were unable to get into dangerous areas in the final third.

Both sides also committed fouls regularly, which also affected the rhythm of the game, and saw each side going into the break with two players already in the referee’s book.

The first real attempt at goal came in the 18th minute when Paulus Masehe pushed forward and fired a shot from long range, but his effort went wide of the target.

Eight minutes later Terrance Mandaza should have done a lot better when he was offered room to shoot inside the box, but his shot went straight to the goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

The visitors had one more chance to break the deadlock a minute before half time through another shot from just outside the penalty area from Moeketsi Mvula, but his attempt went wide of the post.

Ernst Middendorp then made two attacking changes at halftime, bringing on the more attack-minded Wayne Matle in place of Peter Petersen, while the mobile Orlando Smeekes replaced Mandaza.

However, it was Steve Komphela’s men who came back from the break with more confidence to draw first blood, but in the 47th minute Masehe failed to keep his effort from 30 yards low enough to force the goalkeeper into action.

Two minutes later it was Mashego’s turn to fire his shot from the edge of the penalty area, but he also failed to trouble Shu-aib Walters as his effort went wide of the post.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 70th minute when defender Mario Booysen nodded the ball into the back of the net from a Delron Buckley corner, his second goal of the season, 1-0.

However, the lead lasted for just five minutes before substitute Wome leveled matters with a well-taken strike from just outside the box, a few minutes after taking the field, 1-1.

The Togolese midfielder could have completed his brace in the 82nd when he was allowed to shoot again from outside the penalty area, but this time his shot went wide of the post.

Mario Booysen would also have his chance to grab his second goal of the match five minutes later through a well-struck freekick, but Mweene was able to make the save to claim a share of the spoils for his side.

Both sides remain unbeaten this season and this result moves Maritzburg United to the top of the log with eight points, with Stars just below them with the same amount of points.

Maritzburg United (0) 1 (M. Booysen 70’)
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Wome 75’)

Maritzburg United: Walters, Cloete, Petersen (Matle 46’), M. Booysen, Morton, Awal, Buckley, Mandaza (Smeekes 46’), Yende, De Jongh (Evans 87’), Malajila

Free State Stars: Mweene, Sambu (Mkhwanazi 59’), Ouro-Akoriko, Masehe, Mashego, Chivuta (Wome 70’), Cardoso, Nomandela, Wiltwer, Gege, Mvula (Berrian 66’)

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