Sekhukhune, Maritzburg play to 1-1 draw

Sekhukhune United and Maritzburg United played to a 1-1 draw in their DStv Premiership clash at a wet and cool Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Wednesday evening.

Babina Noko claimed an early lead through Rodrick Kabwe, but the Team of Choice struck back late in the first half through Keegan Ritchie.

The result sees Sekhukhune rise one position to eighth place on 29 points from 22 matches, while Maritzburg remain 12th on 22 points from as many games. The KwaZulu-Natal side is five points clear of the relegation zone.

Sekhukhune claimed after just over 60 seconds after the kick-off, with Rodrick Kabwe’s speculative long-range shot squirming through the grasp of usually reliable goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt before rolling tamely over the goal line for 1-0.

Maritzburg very nearly came up with an equaliser on eight minutes after Keegan Ritchie did great work to power in the penalty area and whip a shot on target with his weaker right foot, but Sekhukhune goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata popped up with an excellent save.

However, Ritchie had the beating of Nsabata to level the game in the 43rd minute: the former Kaizer Chiefs man ran onto a knock down and scored with a sliced half-volley from the edge of the box which arrowed beautifully into the bottom corner of the net.

The match was locked at 1-1 at the interval, while the start of the second half saw Sekhukhune make a change by withdrawing Evans Rusike and introducing Justin Shonga.

And the hosts looked for a similar way back into the lead when Kabwe struck a shot on target direct from a free kick in the 57th minute, but this time Engelhardt atoned for his earlier error with an excellent one-handed save to keep the scores level.

The German goalkeeper made another good stop midway through the second stanza when he turned away a fierce shot by Shonga from the edge of the penalty area, as Babina Noko kept up their push to reclaim the ascendancy.

Willard Katsande also warmed the palms of Engelhardt with a long-range effort in the 86th minute – the last notable shot on target before the sides ultimately settled for a share of the spoils.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action on Saturday 2 April, with Sekhukhune visiting Stellenbosch FC and Maritzburg hosting Swallows FC.

Sekhukhune United (1) 1 (Kabwe 1’)

Maritzburg United (1) 1 (Ritchie 43’)

Sekhukhune United:Nsabata, Mobbie, Gyimah, Motsepe, Kabwe, Patjie (Mncube 85’), Maart, Katsande, Kobela (Madonsela 67’), Rusike (Shonga 46’), Ohizu

Maritzburg United:Engelhardt, Allie, Daniels, Palace (Human 61’), Lukhubeni, Baloyi (Bhengu 90+4’), Claasen (Rae 83’), Pereira (Ismail 61’), Ritchie, Macheke (Njoti 83’), Samu