A last-gasp deflected effort from wing Craig Martin salvaged a point for Cape Town City, who played to a 2-2 draw against Free State Stars in their Absa Premiership encounter, writes MARSHALL GOUTS.
Cape Town City made a number of changes to the side that defeated Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-final clash with Mpho Matsi, Edmilson and Keanu Cupido being drafted into the starting XI.
The clash was somewhat marred by the referee, who failed to punish Free State Stars midfielder Paulos Masehe for a shocking studs-up challenge on Roland Putsche, instead opting to book the Austrian midfielder.
The two sides hadn’t even found their feet before the deadlock was broken, courtesy of striker Matthew Rusike, who made no mistake after Ayanda Patosi’s ball into the area caused a bit of confusion.
City continued to enjoy the lions’ share of possession in the opening exchanges and looked threatening on the wings through the pace of Martin and Gift Links.
Martin came agonisingly close to doubling his side’s advantage when he got on to the end of Cupido’s enticing ball into the area, but the wing misdirected his header.
Minutes after the Masehe-Putsche incident, the touch tackling Putsche was unable to continue and had to be replaced by midfielder Thabo Nodada.
City resumed their dominance in the second half and changed their tactics a bit to frustrate their opponents.
Stars levelled matters in the 57th minute when Bangaly Keita latched on to Sinethemba Jantjie’s cross to take advantage of City’s lapse in concentration.
The goal altered the momentum of the clash, with the home side dictating terms. Patosi’s inswinging free kick crashed off the far post in the 62nd minute, much to the dismay of coach Benni McCarthy.
Goodman Dlamini gave his side the lead for the first time in the game when he found the back of the net with a beautiful curling effort.
Defender-cum-wing Ebrahim Seedat was sent on in place of Patosi as McCarthy looked to salvage something from the game. Nana Akosah-Bempah was thrown on for Links as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
City threw everything forward in desperation and their efforts and prayers were duly rewarded when a last-gasp effort by Martin crept in past the goalkeeper for McCarthy’s side, who were arguably hard done by following the injury of Putsche.
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