In search of their first win in the Premier Soccer League since the restart, Mamelodi Sundowns were held 2-2 by Maritzburg United at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Friday night.
Fresh from a loss at the hands of Cape Town City on Monday, Masandawana visited the Team of Choice at their own home ground in Atteridgeville in search of points to close the gap on Kaizer Chiefs.
Coach Pitso Mosimane made changes into the starting eleven where Lebohang Maboe, Themba Zwane, and Sibusiso Vilakazi were benched, thus handing starts to Andile Jali, Ali Meza, and Promise Mkhuma.
Eric Tinkler’s troops welcomed the Tshwane giants hoping to bag their first win since the restart, having lost to Black Leopards last week.
From a slow start, the reigning PSL champions managed to get their passes together in the middle of the park and skipper Hlompho Kekana broke free on the right-wing, but his cross was swallowed by goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
The Brazilians had an upper hand in the opening 10 minutes and nearly found the back of the net in the 16th minute when defender Ricardo Nascimento saw his header bouncing off the crossbar with goalkeeper Richard Ofori beaten, but the defenders cleared the danger.
It took the 24th minute for Sundowns to score, Jali stole the ball from Tebogo Tlolane before setting up Gaston Sirino whose low cross picked up Kekana, the skipper broke the deadlock after his shot deflected into the net.
Two minutes to the half-hour mark, striker Thabiso Kutumela gave Sundowns a scare when he beat Nascimento for pace but his attempt to beat Denis Onyango in the near post could only hit the side of the net.
However, Onyango was beaten by Rushine De Reuck in the 31st minute, as his defence failed to deal with a free-kick into the box and the 24-year-old defender benefitted from the rebound making it 1-1.
The hosts were solid at the back and didn’t allow the likes of Kekana to find their way into the final third, allowing Sirino to take a long-range shot which Ofori dealt with easily.
Sundowns displayed hunger to find the second goal, but they could not beat the defence manned by De Reuck and Nazeer Allie as the half ended 1-1.
Upon their return from the tunnel, Allie was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box, giving Nascimento an opportunity to slot home from the penalty spot, making it 2-1 for Sundowns.
Kutumela made it 2-2 in the 57th minute with a thunderbolt he unleashed a strike from the edge of the penalty area giving Onyango no chance to make a save as the shot sailed into the left corner.
Tinkler’s team continued to dominate the proceedings after the hour mark and Judas Moseamedi also wanted to see his name on the scoresheet only for his glanced header to sail wide from a dangerous position.
With nearly 20 minutes to go, Anele Ngcongca failed to divert the ball into the net after a brilliant pass from the left through Lyle Lakay, before Nascimento was shown his second yellow card for a foul on Thabiso Kutumela reducing the reigning league champions to 10 men.
Mosimane made changes and brought on Mosa Lebusa for Sirino, but the Chloorkop-based club continued to lose balls easily heading to the final 10 minutes of the encounter as both sides settled for a point apiece.
Resulting from the draw, Sundowns sit second with 47 points and now trail Amakhosi by five points, whilst Maritzburg have 40 points in sixth.