Both Golden Arrows and Mamelodi Sundowns remain unbeaten in the DStv Premiership this season after playing to a 1-1 draw at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result sees the Brazilians go three points clear at the top of the log, but they could be overhauled by Swallows FC (who play away to Black Leopards on Sunday), while Abafana Bes’thende rise to fifth place after recording a sixth draw from eight league outings.
Sundowns clearly had one eye on their upcoming CAF Champions League assignment, with key man Themba Zwane not even included in the matchday squad, while the likes of Grant Margeman, Mothobi Mvala (debut) and Promise Mkhuma were handed starting berths.
The Tshwane side had the first effort on target, with Lyle Lakay’s low shot from a free kick comfortably saved by Arrows goalkeeper Sifiso Mlungwana in the 13th minute.
Four minutes later Mvala – renowned for his aerial prowess – outjumped two markers to get on the end of a Lakay corner kick and head home a debut goal, putting the Brazilians 1-0 up and in early control of the match.
However, Abafana Bes’thende struck back through a fine goal midway through the first half. Ntsako Makhubela brilliantly created space down the left to chip in a cross and allow Michael Gumede to get ahead of his marker and nod home at the near post for 1-1.
Arrows should have taken the lead on 37 minutes when Pule Mmodi ran onto a great pull-back into the middle of the penalty area from Mthokozisi Dube, but failed to hit the target – much to the relief of goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
The first half came to an end with the teams still locked at 1-1. ‘Downs made a change at the start of the second stanza, with Lesedi Kapinga replacing Mkhuma (who was the victim of a couple of rough challenges) in attack.
Arrows looked the more threatening team in the opening minutes after the restart, making several entries into the opponent’s penalty area, while Nduduzo Sibiya struck a beautiful effort direct from a free kick which flashed just wide of target.
Both teams struggled to find an attacking rhythm in the final quarter of the game, though Arrows were the more ambitious and proactive team. There was a moment of controversy in the dying minutes when ‘keeper Onyango appeared to deliberately elbow Mathome Mathiane in the process of collecting a cross, but no penalty was awarded and the game finished all square.
Sundowns will return to DStv Premiership action on January 2 with a clash at home to Orlando Pirates, while Arrows will next face Black Leopards at home on January 5.
Golden Arrows (1) 1 (M. Gumede 22’)
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1 (Mvala 17’)
Arrows: Mlungwana, M. Dube, Sibisi, Mathiane, Lunga, Parusnath, Makhubela, Ndwandwe, Mmodi, Sibiya (Mtshali 68’), M. Gumede (Mutizwa 80’)
Sundowns: D. Onyango, Morena, B. Onyango, Nascimento, Lakay, Jali, Mvala (Soumahoro 83’), Margeman (Vilakazi 57’), Maboe, Mkhuma (Kapinga 46’), Shalulile (Mudau 90+1’)