BLOEMFONTEIN Celtic blew the chance to return to the top half of the Absa Premiership table after drawing 1-1 with AmaZulu at the Free State Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Phunya SeleSele would have leapfrogged AmaZulu into eighth-place had they won, and they looked destined to do just that after leading the majority of the match thanks to a first half penalty from lennox Bacela.
However, AmaZulu substitute Josef Lekata netted an injury-time equaliser to salvage a 1-1 draw for his team which keeps them in the top half at Celtic’s expense.
After a quiet opening to the match, it came to life just past the quarter hour mark when AmaZulu defender Belux Bukasa Kasonga gave away a penalty after committing afoul in his own 18-yard area. Celtic striker Lennox Bacela coolly converted the spot kick to make it 1-0 to the home team in the 18th minute.
Both sides created half chances in the remainder of the first half, though neither Thabani Stemmer nor Tapuwa Kapini, the team’s respective goalkeepers, were called in to any really significant action as both sides seemed to have left their shooting boots at home.
The teams had clearly struggled to tell each other apart from their similar colours in the first half, as at the start of the second they re-emerged in different strips: Celtic switched to their all-white change strip, while AmaZulu went to their first choice of all-green.
Seven minutes after the restart Phunya Sele Sele should have doubled their advantage. Thokozani Mshengu surged forward down the right and provided a perfect crossfor teammate Phenyo Mongala, but the former Orlando Pirates winger somehowdirected his header off target when it seemed easier to score.
By the 62ndminute AmaZulu had used all of their three substitutes in an effort to get back into the game, introducing Josef Lekata, Donovan Thompson and Thamsanqa Sangweni. However, they were unable to create any clear chances in regulation time with which to bring themselves on level terms.
Yet Usuthu never gave up, and in the last of three minutes of referee’s optional time they equalised, as Lekata rose highest to meet a free kick and direct a header into the back of the net, salvaging a 1-1 draw for the KwaZulu-Natal side when they seemed.
In another match played this afternoon Maritzburg United were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation threatened Santos at the Harry Gwala Stadium.
The rest of the weekend results are: Platinum Stars 1 v Kaizer Chiefs 2, Ajax Cape Town 2 v Moroka Swallows 2 and Golden Arrows 2 v Free State Stars 0.-Absa.co.za