Kaizer Chiefs and AmaZulu were forced to settle for a share of the spoils as neither side could find the back of the net at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Naturena-based outfit moved above Chippa United and into position six on the log, while Usuthu occupy position nine on the standings after 11 league games.
Steve Komphela made two changes from the side that lost to Bidvest Wits in the Telkom Knockout Cup semi-finals, notably with Teenage Hadebe making his official debut for Amakhosi.
This meant a shift at the back as Erick Mathoho, who hasn’t been in good shape, had to settle for a place on the bench alongside veteran winger Siphiwe Tshabalala.
For Usuthu, Michael Morton returned to the side after serving his two-match ban for that spitting incident which involved Wits attacker Gabadinho Mhango in September.
Going into the encounter, Komphela knew that he needed the points more than his counterpart to ease the pressure he's been getting from the fans, but his charges never really looked impressive from the onset.
Perhaps, the slippery surface on a rainy night in Durban was to blame for their lack of cohesion and inability to string together more than five passes on the night.
In fact, it was Usuthu who created better goalscoring chances in the first half.
However, Chiefs would have Itumeleng Khune to thank for the two superb saves he made, including a block on the goal-line from a Phumlani Gumede attempt towards the end of the opening half.
At this stage, the home side was all over their Soweto opponents, as Chiefs failed dismally to threat the Durban-based side, let alone have a shot on target.
That highlighted Chiefs’ problems upfront and the need for a quality striker to help Gustavo Paez, who was closely monitored throughout the game by Mbongeni Gumede.
Cavin Johnson’s men blew the chance to go in front early in the second half after winning a soft penalty. This was after Siyabonga Ngezana was adjudged to have handled the ball inside his own box, although the replay showed that the defender didn’t deliberately handle the ball.
Justice prevailed as Khune stopped the resulting penalty with a trailing left leg, denying Rhulani Manzini what would have been Usuthu’s first goal of the night.
While Khune’s save was a huge relief to the Amakhosi technical bench and the supporters out in the stands, one man who could have had mixed emotions was Brilliant Khuzwayo.
The uproar the Durban-born goalkeeper caused in the build-up to the game saw a few of Chiefs fans differ in opinions, after he took to social media to express his desire to feature in front of his hometown fans on the night, and therefore fueling speculation that he could leave the club in the near future due to his lack of game time.
Chiefs began to play with more intent after that penalty save by Khune, and their first real chance of the game came 20 minutes into the second half through Paez whose header from Philani Zulu’s cross was brilliantly dealt with by Usuthu’s shot-stopper Boalefa Pule.
Despite their relentless pressure in the closing stages of the game, AmaZulu still couldn’t get the better of Khune, while at the other end, Bernard Parker saw his first shot on target parried around the post by Pule.
Paez squandered a brilliant goalscoring chance after being set up by substitute Tshabalala just inside the box. The Venezuelan striker fluffed his attempt wide of target despite acres of spaces in front of him.
AmaZulu had to finish the match with 10 men following the dismissal of Gumede, but even then, Johnson's men still dominated the game, although Chiefs should have done better through Shabba, who opted to dive inside the box, probably looking for a penalty when Pule was clearly beaten.
In the end, both goalkeepers would be lauded for their stellar performances, especially given the rainy conditions on the night, but thousands of fans who weathered the storm to support their beloved teams would be disappointed that no goals were scored night.