Macuphu brace denies Chilli Boys victory

Royal AM battled back from two goals down to secure a 2-2 draw against Chippa United in their DStv Premiership clash at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Chilli Boys raced into a two-goal lead after Veluyeke Zulu (19') and Siphelele Luthuli (23') struck in the space of four minutes, but John Maduka's side pulled one back through Macuphu before halftime.

Thwihli Thwahla piled on the pressure in the second half and they finally restored parity at the death as Macuphu completed his brace to earn a share of the spoils.

The two teams were targeting the three points for very different reasons, with Chippa looking to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone, while Thwihli Thwahla had their sights set on the top-three.

The visitors had a sniff at goal as early as the opening minute when Tebogo Potsane dragged an effort wide of the far post from inside the box on the right.

Macuphu was next to threaten for John Maduka's men with a shot from inside the area that flew just wide of the right post on 11 minutes after good build-up play involving Victor Letsoalo.

Kabelo Mahlasela also went close for the KZN outfit as he shot narrowly wide from range two minutes later, before the hosts finally created their first chance on 18 minutes when Luthuli latched onto a long ball from Thokozani Sekotlong and fired straight at Patrick Nyame.

Having survived the opening spell of pressure, Chippa hit the front with their next attack in the 19th minute. Zulu was left with a simple tap-in from close range after the ball had dropped at his feet from a corner.

The goal rattled Thwihli Thwahla and they fell further behind four minutes later as Bienvenu sprung a quick counter before laying the ball off for Luthuli, who beat Nyame with a composed finish from inside the box.

However, Ayanda Mtshali let them back into the contest on the half-hour mark when he spilt a free-kick and Macuphu mopped up from close range to halve the deficit.

Letsoalo looked to pick out the top-left corner of the net with a curler from inside the area on the right in the 37th minute but was off target, while at the other end Sizwe Mdlinzo forced Nyame into a save with his strike from outside the box on 40 minutes.

The final action of the opening half saw Sekotlong clear the crossbar from inside the area on 43 minutes after Bienvenu looked to set up him on the counter.

Mtshali was called into action just three minutes after the restart to keep out a strike from Tebogo Potsane and he had to be alert again 10 minutes later when Macuphu let fly from range.

Thabo Matlaba then failed to test the home keeper with another strike from outside the area that sailed over the bar on 66 minutes before the Chilli Boys created three opportunities in the space of six minutes, although Bienvenu, Patrick Mokhele and Aboubacar Sangare were all guilty of missing the target with their respective attempts.

Sangare did manage to draw a superb save out of Nyame on 84 minutes with a curling effort that looked destined for the bottom-left corner, while Mtshali produced a routine stop from Ndumiso Mabena's long-range shot two minutes later.

Royal AM continued to push for an equaliser in the closing stages and they were rewarded in the final minute when Mfundo Thikazi picked out Macuphu inside the box and he slotted past Mtshali for the second time in the match to rescue a deserved point.

Chippa United (2) 2 (V.Zulu 19', S.Luthuli 23')

Royal AM (1) 2 (M.Macuphu 30', 90')

Chippa United: A.Mtshali, V.Zulu, R.Pietersen, R.Pfumbidzai, T.Lebitso (Z.Mdunyelwa 90+3'), R.Hanamub, P.Maloisane (S.Seabi 69'), S.Mdlinzo, S.Luthuli (V.Campher 70'), T.Sekotlong (P. Mokhele 59'), E.Bienvenu.

Royal AM: P.Nyame, S.Manganyi, L.Phalane, R.Nascimento, K.Mahlasela (J.Ncobeni 62'), S.Msomi (N.Mabena 71'), Z.Mkhize (S.Mogaila 71'), T.Matlaba (M.Thikazi 80'), T.Potsane (M.Masuku 62'), V.Letsoalo, M.Macuphu.