Bloemfontein Celtic and Maritzburg United shared the spoils in their DStv Premiership match at Dr Molemela Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening, playing to a 1-1 draw thanks to goals from Thabiso Kutumela and Menzi Ndwandwe.
The result sees Phunya Sele Sele extend their winless run to four matches and remain in 11th place, while Maritzburg stay 15th but have opened up a one-point lead over bottom-of-the-log Black Leopards.
Maritzburg started the stronger of the two teams and Bongokuhle Hlongwane nearly handed them the lead in the 18th minute, using the run of Daylon Claasen as a decoy before cutting inside and firing a long-range effort just off target.
Thabiso Kutumela put a header over the crossbar midway through the first half after good set-up play by Jose Ali Meza, before Hlongwane threatened again a couple of minutes later, dragging a shot wide after running onto a ball over the top of the defence.
It seemed only a matter of time until the Team of Choice claimed the lead and the visitors duly netted in injury time before the interval, with Kutumela scoring a fine goal direct from a free kick just outside the penalty area to see United 1-0 up at half time.
Both teams opted for a change at the start of the second half, with Celtic introducing Menzi Masuku off the bench and Maritzburg replacing Ryan Rae with Fares Hachi in defence.
The latter nearly provided an assist just eight minutes after the restart when his ball over the top gave Hlongwane space to line up a shot, but the United attacker saw his effort closed down by the Celtic defence.
Phunya Sele Sele grew into the game as the second half wore on and began to build pressure on United’s defence, finally breaking through on 72 minutes when Menzi Ndwandwe capitalised on some poor marking and finished beyond Jackson Mabokgwane for 1-1.
Maritzburg looked for a second goal in the aftermath of Celtic’s equaliser, and substitute Sibusiso Hlubi nearly put them back in front with a powerful effort on 82 minutes, but Mabokgwane held on well to keep the scores level.
United ended the game with 10 men when Clayton Daniels received his marching orders late on, but it made no difference to the final result.
Maritzburg will return to DStv Premiership action on Wednesday, 10 March with a home match against Kaizer Chiefs, while Celtic’s next league clash is away to Baroka FC on 20 March.
Bloemfontein Celtic (0) 1 (Ndwandwe 72’)
Maritzburg United (1) 1 (Kutumela 45+1’)
Celtic: Mabokgwane, Ngobeni, Chabalala, Mahashe, Rikhotso (Luthuli 67’), Kobedi (Van Der Ross 67’), Maema (Phalane 76’), Baloyi, Ndwandwe, Potsane (Masuku 46’), Letsoalo
Maritzburg: Engelhardt, Rae (Hachi 46’), Daniels, Ismail, Morgan, Shandu (Bhengu 61’), Claasen (Hlubi 78’), Tlolane, Hlongwane (Sifama 61’), Meza, Kutumela.