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Mamelodi Sundowns and Stellenbosch FC share the spoils at Danie Craven Stadium

Augustine Dimgba of Stellenbosch FC is challenged by Thabiso Kutumela of Mamelodi Sundowns during their DStv Premiership match at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Augustine Dimgba of Stellenbosch FC is challenged by Thabiso Kutumela of Mamelodi Sundowns during their DStv Premiership match at Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Published Dec 4, 2021

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Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns kept their unbeaten record intact this term after coming-from-behind to salvage a point against Stellenbosch FC during their 1-1 draw in a DStv Premiership clash at a windy Danie Craven Stadium on Saturday night.

Although it was not the result that they wanted, the champions remained at the top of the standings with 31 points, nine ahead of the second-placed Royal AM, while Stellies remained fourth as their winless run extended to five matches.

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The Brazilians will be the most disappointed side with the result, given the fact that they were on the back of a 2-0 win over Sekhukhune United. But they’ll be pleased with how they responded, especially from the start of the second half.

Having been two of the unbeaten teams in the league during the start of the term, before the wheels came off on Stellenbosch who came to this game after back-to-back defeats, a lot was expected from this game, especially in offensive play.

Sundowns are appeasing on build-up and penetration of pockets, while Stellenbosch work on long balls – searching for Ashley Du Preez up front. And that's why both sides had managed to find the goals, when need be, in their matches.

But, here, there was never a doubt that Sundowns would dominate from start to finish. Albeit sticking to that script, it took the reigning champions a while before they ensured that goalie Sage Stephens earned his pay cheque in this encounter.

Much to Sundowns’ slow pressing earlier could be pinpointed on the absence of their new knight-in-shining armour Neo Maema who missed this game due to a knock, while it took a little while before attacker Thabiso Kutumela filled in his void.

But once the Bafana international found his footing in the game, he tired Stellies’ defence especially debutant Athenkosi Mcaba. And, as a result, he should have got a goal after a through pass from Peter Shalulile against the run of play.

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But Stephens came to his team’s rescue, parrying away the low curling hard shot before his defence regrouped. That was the second time that he came to his team’s rescue, having tipped over the crossbar Grant Kekana’s pin-point shot.

But that dominance of play, without the conversion of a handful of chances, came back to haunt the Brazilians just before half-time. Against the run of play, Du Preez outpaced Khuliso Mudau who ended up fouling him inside the 18-area.

Referee Philangenkosi Khumalo unreluctantly awarded the spot-kick. And up stepped Junior Medieta and sent goalie Kennedy Mweene the wrong way. And that’s how the first half ended with the home side surprisingly in the driving seat.

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But such is the championship mentality within this Sundowns team that they didn't give up. And when Thapelo Morena replaced Mudau at half-time, the mandate was clear: attack with pace to tire the Stellies’ defence from the outset.

Morena was able to match the pace of Du Preez. And as a result the visitors were able to operate on the wing as they equalised after Lyle Lakay was got space outside the box before he picked his spot and put the ball in the bottom corner.

@Mihlalibaleka

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