Ea Lla Koto unfortunate to settle for a 1-1 draw in their match against Maritzburg at the Goble Park Stadium, following numerous failed attempts in front of goal
The match between Free State Stars and Maritzburg got off to a scrappy start with neither side was able to hold onto the ball for longer than two passes. The match was a physical encounter with both teams getting stuck in and looked to gain dominance.
The Team of Choice managed to get off the mark as early as in the second minute when defender Kwanda Mngonyama came up to convert from a set-piece. Mngonyama got his second goal for Maritzburg following a scramble with the goalkeeper to ensure the ball crossed the goalline.
Ea Lla Koto played a high tempo game as they looked for the immediate equalizer. They moved the ball with urgency into the final third and pressed the visitors for the entire opening half. Steve Komphela’s men did not threaten the home side at all and only got their second shot at goal before the stroke of half time.
Stars midfielder Moffat Mdluli had an early low driven shot from the edge of the area which went wide of goal, then another snapshot from a similar position which went narrowly over the woodwork. The home side almost punished their opposition at the half hour mark following some poor communication between goalkeeper Virgil Vries and a defender during a corner set-piece.
Tom Saintfiet’s men edged closer to an equalizer as they dominated 70% of the ball possession and struck 10 shots at goal.
Seven minutes into the second period Saintfiet brought on the newly-signed Belgium attacker Andrea Fillecia into attack in aid of leveling matters. In the 55th minute the home side’s hard pressing style was rewarded when Moeketsi Sekola found the back of the net with a superb 30-yard strike.
Sekola picked up his third goal for Ea Lla Koto when his shot took a lucky bounce that went over the diving shot-stopper. At the other end Khumbulani Banda could have regained the lead for Maritzburg, but he fluffed a free shot from inside the 18-yard area.
Saintfiet was not looking to share the spoils and introduced Lehlohonolo Thebakang into the attack as he looked for the winner. In the 65th minute Katlego Mashego picked up a second ball form a dead-ball situation and fired a stunning shot into the top corner, however, Vries was up to the challenge and did extremely well to push the ball out for a corner.
The home side was graced with a couple of gifted opportunities in the final 10 minutes of the game, yet failed to capitalize on them and unfortunately had to settle for a 1-1 draw.