The Tshwane derby ends in a goalless draw, in a game dominated by goalkeeper heroics
Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United played out a draw at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on Wednesday night.
The Tshwane Derby which looked to be a lacklustre encounter following a dull first half, turned into an mildly entertaining stalemate between two sides which looked desperate for the three points on offer.
Matsatsanza went into the game on the back of the MTN8 final defeat against Moroka Swallows and would have wanted to bury their disappointment with a positive performance against their Tshwane rivals.
Gavin Hunt restructured his side following Saturday’s final, looking to use fresh legs against a Sundowns side which is still considered to be dangerous, even though they have struggled to turn possession into goals recently.
Mamelodi Sundowns started the match without injured playmaker Teko Modise. His creativity and vision was sorely needed by a Sundowns team which has struggled to create goalscoring opporutnites in recent matches.
Coach Johan Neeskens has been under severe pressure following four straight defeats for his team. Their lack of scoring form has been compounded by serious injuries to key attacking players.
The game was played in front of a sparse crowd at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, with only five thousand fans turning out for the derby match. Sundowns fans were in good voice, trying to spur on their struggling side.
Supersport United started with the early momentum, but neither side created clear-cut chances until the 19th minute when Atusaye Nyando pushed the ball into space following a poor clearance and tried to manoeuvre his left-footed shot over Wayne Sandilands which led to ball the flying over the crossbar.
The tight midfield battle continued until the 30th minute when Sundowns created a real opportunity as Zimbabwean Nyasha Mushekwi latched onto a dangerous in-swinging corner kick by Kermit Erasmus.
The striker found himself unmarked and had a free header in the box, but could only direct the ball straight into the crossbar following a fingertip save from Ramon Williams.
Mushekwi looked to continue threatening the Supersport United defence, using his physical presence to his advantage. His final touch deserted him though, an all too familiar result for Sundown’s strikers this season.
The traditionally physical encounter was dominated by either side’s defence in the opening half. Sundowns were looking dangerous at times, but goals continued to look elusive for the side, amid growing frustration on the bench and in the stands.
The first half lacked imagination from either side, as both looked stunted in the attacking department. The derby seemed destined for a draw unless risks were taken by one of the Tshwane giants.
Matsatsanza defender Thabo September picked up a yellow card early in the first minute of the second half, after a dangerous tackle aimed at Hlompo Kekana. Strong challenges continued to fly in from Supersport United players, as a second yellow card within two minutes was awarded to Davis Nkausu after he lunged in at Tebogo Langerman on the right wing.
Matsatsanza began to show their intent in the early stages of the second half, looking more dangerous and eager to push forward. Sundowns responded well, forcing goalkeeper Ronwen Williams into action on numerous occasions.
A game which lacked pace had suddenly opened up, as both teams began to show more hunger and attacking determination.
Supersport United created the best chance of the match in the 62nd minutes, forcing Wayne Sandilands into an acrobatic save, as Bevan Fransman used his head to direct a cross from Sameegh Doutie into the top right corner of the Sundowns goal.
Sandilands was up to the task, sprawling to his left and denying Supersport the lead.
Following this period of cut and thrust, the game setled down once again, as the teams' defences tightened up once more and the game ran out of pace. Sundowns finished strongly, applying some late pressure.
However Ronwen Williams completed a strong showing in goal with a superb save in the 87th minute, denying a late goal for Sundowns after substitute Edward Manqele looked destined to score.
Tebogo Langerman showed some late energy and crossed the ball into the box, finding Manqele who did everything right with a well placed shot, but was denied by a sprawling Williams who looked imperious in goal.
The clash ended as a draw, but both teams showed intent in the second half which would have pleased their respective coaches.
While Neeskens reamins under pressure to pick up a victory, he would have been pleased with his team's strong defensive display. Supersport United have yet to really get going this season as they remain unbeaten following their fourth draw of the season.