Struggling Maritzburg United put up a character-filled display to come from a goal down and claim a 1-1 draw against Mamelodi Sundowns at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday night.
The Tshwane side had gone ahead in the 31st minute through Themba Zwane, but the Team of Choice fought back to equalise in the 60th minute through Kwanda Mngonyama as the KwaZulu-Natal side registered a point - their first of the season in their sixth league game, under new coach Ernst Middendorp.
Maritzburg had a strong first half, despite finding themselves a goal down at the break, and it was the home team who had the first real chance of the night in the 15th minute when Thabiso Kutumela's header was well saved by opposition keeper Denis Onyango.
Sundowns then sprung into gear and three minutes later they were close to scoring when Zwane cut the ball back for Peter Shalulile, taking out goalkeeper Sebastian Mwange in the process, but Shalulile was denied by defender Nazeer Allie, who brilliantly cleared off the line.
The action continued at both ends as Mwange made a good reflex save from a stinging drive by Shalulile before Kutumela had another shot saved after some nice interplay involving Mngonyama and Judas Moseamedi.
Sundowns were to go in front in the 31st minute when some slick interplay ended with former Maritzburg midfielder Lebohang Maboe crossing low for Zwane to score from close range, his sixth league goal of the new season.
There was a good opportunity for the hosts to draw level six minutes later when Kutumela cut onto his right foot and flashed a curling effort narrowly wide.
After the half time break, Sundowns wasted a great chance to double their lead when Mwange palmed a stinging shot from Erasmus into the path of Shalulile, only for the Namibian to balloon the ball over an open goal.
Mwange was forced off the field a few minutes later after injuring himself while landing from an aerial challenge, being replaced by Jethren Barr.
It was at the other end of the park though where the next action came, and it resulted in an equaliser on the hour mark for Maritzburg as Mngonyama brilliantly headed in from a Dan Morgan corner.
After some more positive play from the home side, it was instead Masandawana who had the next clear opportunity on goal when Hlompho Kekana let rip with a long-range scorcher, which Barr did well to beat away.
With 12 minutes to play, there was a bit of drama on the sidelines when referee Victor Gomes showed a red card to Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who will now miss the next two matches.
The game remained tight before the next chance arrived, in the 86th minute and there could have been a home winner as Kutumela went clean through on goal, but a heavy touch allowed Onyango to come off his line and make the block.
That was the last real opening as the game ended deadlocked at 1-1, a fair reflection of an absorbing encounter.