Absa Premiership

Scot Murray blows cold in South African heat

Gavin Hunt.(Gallo Images)
Gavin Hunt.(Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Scot Simon Murray suffered a form slump for Bidvest Wits when they drew 1-1 at Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday in the Absa Premiership, and coach Gavin Hunt blamed the hot weather.

"You know where he comes from," said the Wits boss, referring to Scotland, where the 26-year-old striker was on the books of Hibernian before moving to Johannesburg last July.

"He is not used to this weather and was nowhere near his best," added Hunt after a match staged in stamina-sapping 29-degree celsius conditions.

Murray bagged a brace last Tuesday as Wits won at Cape Town City to top the table, a position they still hold after several clubs squandered chances to overtake them.

Despite struggling to make an impact in a clash near Pretoria between the last two South African champions, Murray lasted 88 minutes before being replaced by Namibian Deon Hotto.

Murray is among eight players who have scored three league goals this season, one less than pacesetter Evans Rusike, a Zimbabwean from SuperSport United.

Hlompho Kekana put Sundowns ahead after 56 minutes and former Slavia Prague defender Keegan Ritchie levelled direct from a free-kick 11 minutes later.

Set-pieces are often poorly executed in the Premiership with some pundits believing footballers spend insufficient time at training honing corner and free-kick skills.

So the Ritchie masterclass came out of the blue - a swerving, dipping medium-distance effort that left veteran Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango helpless.

Hunt said that ordinarily he would be thrilled to leave Sundowns with a point, but this time there was only disappointment.

"It is a positive sign that we are not happy with a point - we could have taken all three but for a few wasted chances and conceding a soft goal."

Wits have 17 points, Orlando Pirates 16, Kaizer Chiefs, SuperSport United, Bloemfontein Celtic and Polokwane City 14 and Sundowns, Highlands Park and Free State Stars 11.

Sundowns' 2016 CAF Champions League-winning coach Pitso Mosimane was unhappy that Wits goalkeeper Darren Keet went unpunished after handling outside the box near the end.

"We have not had much luck lately and are losing points as a result, but when I complain people say Pitso is a cry baby."

Sundowns had a late goal controversially ruled offside in a draw away to Celtic four days ago.

In other matches, Zimbabwean Knox Mutizwa scored to give Golden Arrows a 1-0 home win over Black Leopards in Durban and Baroka and SuperSport drew 0-0 in Polokwane.

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