Leopards fight back to deny Stellenbosch victory

Stellenbosch and Black Leopards played to a 2-2 draw in their Absa Premiership match at Athlone Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Stellies looked on course for a first win since earning promotion, thanks to a brace from Waseem Isaacs, but Lidoda Duvha struck a last-gasp equaliser to claim a share of the spoils.

Stellenbosch enjoyed early dominance and the likes of Lelethu Skelem and Iqraam Rayners had pot shots at goal from distance, though none of them were any trouble for Leopards goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.

The visitors settled into the game and began creating half-chances of their own, with Lesedi Kapinga and Lifa Hlongwane influential in troubling the Stellies defence, though Mwape Musonda wasn’t quite presented with clear-cut opportunities.

The Cape side suffered an injury blow late in the first half when defender Sibusiso Mthethwa had to be replaced, with Alan Robertson coming off the bench. However, they soon claimed the lead in the 42nd minute when Waseem Isaacs took advantage of some slack defending and put a shot beyond Mendes to see Stellenbosch leading 1-0 at the halftime break.

Isaacs threatened a second goal a few minutes after the restart, but he sent his shot just over the crossbar from long range. Stellenbosch looked confident and aggressive by this stage, putting together some fine attacking moves to push Leopards onto the back foot.

Lidoda Duvha changed thing up in midfield by introducing Joseph Mhlongo and this helped them to get their passing move going. The hosts soon needed Boy De Jong to make a fine save to deny Musonda in the 60th minute.

Just two minutes later the equaliser arrived for the Limpopo side, with Robert Ngambi putting an effort beyond the reach of the hosts’ goalkeeper after a build-up of pressure. It was no less than Leopards deserved for their endeavour and persistence.

Yet Stellenbosch remained a potent threat going forward and they were rewarded with a second goal for Issacs in the 72nd minute. The forward provided a fine finish after sniffing out some space in behind the Leopards defence.

The Cape side looked on course for their first victory and mounted a heroic rearguard action in the dying stages, including some excellent saves from De Jong. But in the second minute of injury time they conceded to Leopards substitute Karabo Tshepe, to see the game end 2-2.

Stellenbosch will be in league action in a week’s time, as they play away to Golden Arrows on Saturday 28 September, while Leopards will be in action the following day when they host Bloemfontein Celtic.

Stellenbosch (1) 2 (Isaacs 42’ 72’)

Black Leopards (0) 2 (Ngambi 62’, Tshepe 90+2’)

Stellenbosch: De Jong, Mobbie, Gould, Mthethwa (Robertson 38’), Johannes, van Heerden, Zungu, Skelem, Moroole (Dickson 69’), Isaacs, Rayners (Matsi 77’)

Leopards: Mendes, Matlaba, Katjiukua, Masia, Zulu, Mokoena (Andrianarimanan