Strugglers were down to 10 men but still conjured up a late equaliser
A late equaliser saw Chippa United move out of the relegation zone as their 10-man team twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with SuperSport United at the Athlone Stadium on Tuesday.
Welcome Qalanto snatched an 88th minute goal to add to one he scored in the first half as the ‘Chilli Boys’ celebrated a vital point under new coach Farouk Abrahams.
SuperSport seemed on the verge of snapping their run of draws but have now amassed eight draws in their first nine matches of the season – a Premier Soccer League record.
They had looked on their way to victory after Kermit Erasmus scored twice for them, a day after he was recalled to the national team for the upcoming friendly against Zambia at Soccer City.
The newly promoted team had to play the last 12 minutes down to 10 men after Buyani Sali was sent off for a second bookable offence by referee Thabo Nkosi, who flashed five yellow cards in the first half alone.
SuperSport drew first blood when a swift series of passes allowed Jabu Maluleke to hit a square ball that evaded the home team’s defence and fell comfortably for Erasmus to tap in a the back post.
A mix up between new defender James Okwousa and goalkeeper Kassaly Daouda, returning from a bout of malaria, contributed to the goal and the two continued through the first half to get in each other’s way.
Indeed, just 60 seconds after the goal there could have been another for SuperSport because of Chippa’s defensive uncertainty when Erasmus played in an inviting cross but Maluleke hit wide.
The equaliser in the 32nd minute came with a large dollop of good fortune as debutant Togo striker Thomas Amegnaglo evaded a mistimed tackle from Bevan Fransman on the right wing and then hit a long cross towards goal that he miscued, turning it into a looping shot bearing straight down on goal.
SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams had to back track to try and keep the ball out, getting a stiff arm to stop in on the line but Welcome Qalanto was first to the rebound, easily tucking home the ball.
The goal gave Chippa the confidence to press forward, dispensing with the cautious counter attack approach that they had employed in all their previous games since winning promotion.
But it was ironically from a quick counter that the hosts should have gone 2-1 ahead with some crisp passing setting Mfundo Shumana free on the left, but he took his shot in haste and skied it wide.
The second half was a much more cagey affair and the winning goal came after a sustained period with any chances as George Maluleka’s cross was met by Erasmus’ glancing header.
Chippa might have equalised straight away but Qalanto missed a sitter in front of goal.
Substitute Sibusiso Zuma could have made it 3-1 but his shot saw Daouda pull off a fine one-handed save.
Chippa then snatched their last equaliser after a penetrating run allowed Qalanto to double his tally and that of his team.