Benni McCarthy’s AmaZulu produce late rally to snatch a point in Stellenbosch
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Cape Town – Benni McCarthy's AmaZulu showed tremendous fighting spirit and character to snatch a late point in a pulsating 2-2 draw with a 10-man Stellenbosch FC at the Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Amazulu found themselves two goals down with less than 30 minutes remaining on the clock before a brilliant strike from the edge of the box from Sphesihle Maduna kick-started the revival in the 74th minute. Maduna's goal galvanized the visitors which ultimately led to Keagan Buchanan producing the equaliser straight from a corner just two minutes before the final whistle.
This was certainly a massive turnaround after
Stanley Dimgba was almost hot as his new flaming red Mohawk hairstyle for Stellenbosch.
Dimbga was not just the scorer of the opening goal on the hour mark, but an influential figure throughout. He was ever present down the right flank with the Nigerian's speed causing AmaZulu all sorts of problems.
Dimgba fully deserved his team's opener when AmaZulu attempt to play him off-side backfired and left him unmarked on the edge of the box. The former Enyimba forward showed his composure to rifle the ball past Veli Mothwa and into the roof of the AmaZulu net.
Stellenbosch doubled their advantage within 10 minutes of Dimgba's opener when Argentine playmaker Junior Mendietta showed his class and skill to produce a defence-splitting pass that set Ashley du Preez clear on goal. Du Preez needed no second invitation to put Stellies 2-0 ahead.
But it was the substitution of both Dimgba and Mendietta during the closing stages as Stellenbosch looked to close out the game instead of sticking to their earlier gameplan that allowed McCarthy's team to begin their fightback.
The four-goal second half blitz was in complete contrast to the opening 45 minutes when both teams were guilty of not capitalizing on the opposition's mistakes with the defences on either side guilty of conceding possession in dangerous areas of the field.
The first opportunity fell to AmaZulu striker Lehlohonolo Majoro, who struck a fierce shot at the Stellies goal after a defensive error from the home side. Stellenbosch goalkeeper Sage Stephens did well to get down in time to keep out Majoro's early strike.
Majoro certainly seemed to be the major attacking threat for the visitors as a few moments later he showed excellent skill to get himself out of a tight situation before unleashing a shot that whistled past the outside of the Stellenbosch left post.
AmaZulu were not immune to mistakes at the back either when Stellenbosch's high press forced the visitors' to overturn possession which let in Dimgba, but the Nigerian attacker could not take full advantage on that occasion with Mothwa executing a good save for the visitors.
The frustration was certainly to show on the side of AmaZulu with Majoro and Thabo Qalinge unable to quite find their rhythm as a couple of interlinking passes went astray in the first half.
And it only grew even further when Qalinge could not benefit from a near suicidal cross field pass from Stellenbosch five minutes before the half-time break. The AmaZulu attacker failed to utilize the gilt-edged opportunity as he blasted his shot over Stephens' cross bar.
Stellenbosch's frustrations at surrendering their two-goal was compounded when they eventually lost substitute Devon Titus to a red card for a second bookable offence shortly before the final whistle, although they can take some form of solace from the fact that their unbeaten start to the DStv Premiership remains intact.