Both NWU Mafikeng and UP-Tuks seem to have the recipe for success but neither could find it in this Round 4 clash which they drew 1-1.
On paper, Thursday evening’s clash at NWU-Mafikeng was set to be a classic – not least because both semi-final hopefuls lost in Round 3.
Both have the right talent; fresh, young and energetic. Available to them was a newly refurbished pitched and boisterous crowd – though almost entirely clad in purple army and that partiality was evident when the first goal arrived.
UP-Tuks drew first blood on the brink of half time, which silenced the cowd. Smart play down the Stripe Generation’s right flank, Lebohang Montueli with the ball on the edge of the box. He unleashed a left-footer which took a heavy deflection off Tholinhlanhla Masuku before looping over the helpless Luzuko Jevuka. In truth, the goalkeeper could have been punished for other nervy moments during the opening 45 minutes but did not deserve the way he conceded the opener.
At the other end, UP-Tuks’ goalkeeper Giovanni Idi had kept the visitors in the contest with three crucial saves, one of which saw him struggling with his left shoulder throughout the remainder of the game.
Half-time came and went without either coach immediately tinkering with their line-ups – UP-Tuks’ Tlisane Motaung had already been forced into a change when Tobatsi Roets came on for an injured Mogau Khwinana after 30 minutes.
As it happened, it was another substitute which made the difference for the Noble Boys. Banele Hlophe came on for Lindani Nkabinde on the hour mark and then, with virtually his first touch of the ball, levelled matters.
Hlophe latched onto a smartly-headed flick-on from Man of the Match Mandisi Gadla before beating Idi with a rasping shot from the edge of the box.
Both teams attempted to find the right mix of attack and defence for the remaining 30 minutes but the latter proved more decisive. The game remained one-apiece which arguably left the host more frustrated as they’re yet to beat UP-Tuks during Varsity Football action.
NWU Mafikeng (0) 1 Banele Hlophe
UP-Tuks (1) 1 Lebohang Montueli
FNB Player of the Match: Mandisi Gadla (NWU Mafikeng)
Debonairs Pizza Real Deal Save of the Match: Giovanni Idi (UP-Tuks)
MTN Pulse Moment of Brilliance: Banele Hlophe (NWU Mafikeng)
NWU: 28. Luzuko Jevuka (GK), 22. Lesego Motsepe, 2. Tholinhlanhla Masuku, 14. Tshepiso Mahlangu, 8. Kananelo Motsoeneng, 6. Lindani Nkabinde, 5. Sibusiso Ndlovu, 7. Paseka Matsheka (capt), 9. Adam Fynn, 23. Simphiwe Mlangeni, 24. Mandisi Gadla.
Replacements: 27. Kagiso Ramadivhane (GK), 3. Wandile Luvuno, 10. Tshepo Baholo, 11. Kagiso Moshotetsi, 12. Bongani Taaibosch, 16. Israel Matshane, 21. Banele Hlophe.
UP-Tuks: 16. Giovanni Idi (GK), 7. Jurgen Booysen, 3. Sabelo Tsambo, 23. Chinedu Okolo, Wandile Dlamini, 11. Lebohang Montueli, 10. Mogau Khwinana, 20. Katlego Motlhatsang (capt), 26. Mathuane Selotola, 15. Siphamandla Ntuli, 9. Nhlanhla Mabaso.
Replacements: 18. Tyler Den Heyer (GK), 2. Tobatsi Roets, 4. Edward Rankwe, 14. Ross Marshall, 22. Curtis Mathebula, 24. Jerry Tlou, 25. Sive Mfala.
By Phenyo Mokgothu