Bloemfontein Celtic and Golden Arrows opened their 2020-21 DStv Premiership campaigns with a 1-1 draw at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Abafana Bes’thende opened the scoring through Ntsako Makhubela in the first half, but Phunya Sele Sele fought back to claim a share of the spoils with a second-half equaliser from Victor Letsoalo.
Bloemfontein goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane was a busy man in the opening minutes, keeping out efforts from Arrows’ Ntsako Makhubela, Diving Lunga and Pule Mmodi with a series of fine saves.
However, the gloves-man was beaten in the 16th minute when Makhubela fired home to round off a fine team move from Arrows, which saw Gladwin Shitolo send Mmodi into space out wide, who in turn provided a fine assist for the goal scorer.
Celtic responded well to going behind and created a couple of quick chances to equalise, with Motebang Sera heading wide in the 18th minute, while midway through the first half Victor Letsoalo had a presentable chance but failed to test Arrows goalkeeper Sifiso Mlungwana.
Abafana Bes’thende spurned a great chance to double their lead just past the half-hour mark, with Mmodi combining well with Michael Gumede before going one-on-one with Mabokgwane from a tight angle, but he couldn’t put a shot beyond the ‘keeper.
Celtic looked to get themselves back into the game before the interval, but Arrows were able to hold firm in defence and ensure they enjoyed a 1-0 lead at halftime.
Celtic kept up their pressure in attack and were rewarded just before the hour mark. Arrows’ Lunga lunged in for a tackle on Harris Tchilimbou and was by-passed too easily, allowing Letsoalo to run onto the ball and strike an effort beyond Mlungwana for 1-1.
The teams traded chances in the remainder of the game, with neither prepared to sit back and be satisfied with a point, but ultimately that was exactly what they had to settle for after the final whistle saw the clubs still locked at 1-1.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming midweek, with Celtic away to Moroka Swallows and Arrows hosting SuperSport United – both on Wednesday 28 October.