Absa Premiership

Plucky Highlands Park frustrate Mamelodi Sundowns in Soweto

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Sphelele Mkhulise
Sphelele Mkhulise
Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns were made to endure a frustrating time at Dobsonville Stadium as they played to a 1-1 draw with a plucky Highlands Park outfit on Friday evening.

As it happened | Highlands Park v Mamelodi Sundowns 

Downs were left reeling early on as Peter Shalulile fired Highlands Park in front after just five minutes of play, but they eventually recovered and drew level thanks to Sphelele Mkhulise's pin-point header.

There were more chances for both sides, and the Lions of the North in particular, after the half-time interval but with neither side able to fashion a second goal the Premiership clash would end in stalemate.

The first half began at a good tempo as Sundowns came flying out of the starting blocks, Sibusiso Vilakazi forcing a save from Highlands keeper Tapuwa Kapini after letting fly from a tight angle in the fourth minute.

However, it was the Lions of the North who drew first blood just two minutes later, Shalulile latching onto a long ball over the top before turning and firing the ball in off the crossbar.

The goal certainly caught Masandawana by surprise and they struggled to impose themselves on proceedings and they went on search of an equaliser.

Sundowns eventually came out of their shell after a short drinks break just before the half-hour mark, no doubt fired up by some stern words from head coach Pitso Mosimane.

They created a series of good chances as play resumed, Gaston Sirino firing narrowly wide after being teed up by Themba Zwane, while Ricardo Nascimento wasted a glorious chance a few minutes later as he sent a headed effort sailing harmlessly over the bar.

Highlands Park were given a warning of what was to come when Zwane's first-time shot from the edge of the box forced a fingertip save from Kapini in the 36th minute.

There was no stopping midfielder Mkhulise a few minutes later as he powered a header past Kapini and into the back of the net after Sirino's pin-point cross into the danger area.Downs very nearly claimed the lead with three minutes remaining in the half but the chance came to nothing as Kapini did well to get down low to deny another Nascimento header.

There was one last chance for Highlands too, but Denis Onyango snapped up the a very tame headed effort with ease as the two teams went into the half-time break on level pegging.

While the first half produced a flurry of great goalscoring chances, the same cannot be said of the second half.

It was not for a want of trying, though, as Sundowns upped their tempo after a slow start, knowing a three-point haul would see them move to within one point of league leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

In fact, it was the Lions of the North who looked more likely to score as the half wore on, with Thalente Mbatha firing high and wide from the edge of the area, before Thalente Mbatha whipped in a sumptuous cross, which somehow evaded a team-mate's head in a crowded box.

Goalscorer Shalulile's header deflected wide of goal in the 65th minute as Downs managed to weather the storm, before Downs substitute Promise Mkhuma somehow failed to hit the mark after being played through on goal by a wonderful chip over the top.

Despite a renewed push from both sides in the final stretch of the match, the legs just weren't there as they were forced to settle for a share of the points.

- TEAMtalk media