Just three log points separate second-placed NWU and seventh-placed TUT on the Varsity Football log after Round 5’s matches at the University of Pretoria on Wednesday.
UFS 1 TUT 1
Tshepiso Mnisi’s 76th-minute goal rescued a point for TUT against Kovsies at Tuks Stadium to keep their semi-final hopes alive.
Kovsies talisman Sello Diphoko had scored early in the second half.
TUT have just five log points from five games, while Kovsies have eight, with two rounds of league-stage matches remaining.
Kovsies’ Obakeng Seekoei was named the FNB Player of the Match.
Bubbly TUT coach Bushy Moloi, who wore a suit and cap combination for this match, saw his team ask all the questions in the first half. Kovsies were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure with goalkeeper Ntobeko Mhlongo making two good saves.
TUT continued to probe after the break, but it was Diphoko who scored his fifth goal of the tournament to put UFS ahead after an inviting cross from Thato Skhosana.
TUT threw everything at Kovsies and Lekaba came close to scoring when his free-kick was pushed by Mhlongo’s fingertip onto the crossbar in the 53rd minute.
When Mnisi did restore parity, Mhlongo was partly to blame as he came off his line too early and missed the cross from Lekaba.
Diphoko could have snatched all three points for UFS on the breakaway in the 87th minute, but he missed an open goal with TUT goalkeeper Sikhumbuzo Ncube beaten.
WITS 4 UKZN 1
Wits recorded their second win of the Varsity Football tournament when they hammered UKZN at the Tuks B-Field.
Mthokozisi Ashley Sibisi opened the scoring for Wits with a 22nd-minute goal.
Winless UKZN equalised soon after when Nkuleleko Dlamini’s rocket went into the top right corner but that was as good as it got for his side.
Wits struck twice just before half-time, through Welcome Masemola and Saluleko Mathonsi, to take a 3-1 lead into the break.
Clinton Mphahlele completed the rout in the 63rd minute when he scored Wits’ fourth.
Wits No 10 Tebogo Mandyu won the FNB Player of the Match award.
UJ 0 TUKS 0
This entertaining goalless draw at Tuks Stadium kept viewers on the edge of their seats in the second half.
The result sees UJ stay at the top of the log with two rounds of league-stage matches remaining, while Tuks remain fourth.
Tuks goalkeeper Siyabonga Gumede was named the FNB Player of the Match.
This was an intense game with tackles forcing the referee to blow his whistle frequently and the two coaches – Karabo Mogudi (UJ) and Nicholas Stothard (Tuks) – showing their passion on the bench.
The two goalkeepers – UJ’s Titi Mabuza and Tuks’ Siyabonga Gumede – were hardly tested in the first half, but both came to the rescue for their teams in a lively second half.
Tuks showed a sense of urgency in the second half as they looked for the breakthrough and skipper Blessing Mabasa almost scored with a header in the 50th minute.
UJ were dangerous on the counter-attack and nearly made Tuks pay for pushing forward in large numbers.
However, neither team was able to get that crucial goal and had to settle for a draw.
NWU 0 VUT 0
VUT frustrated champions NWU during a dull goalless draw at Tuks Stadium.
The draw felt like a win for the boys from Vaal, while it was a case of two points dropped for the team from Mafikeng.
NWU moved to second spot on the log, with eight points from five matches, while VUT are sixth with seven points.
VUT’s Charles Sikhosana deservedly won the FNB Player of the Match award.
NWU had slightly more ball possession but were unable to make it count, much to the frustration of Karabo Masehela, who at 32 is the youngest coach in the competition.
NWU also had more set-pieces, but lacked the final touch upfront. Frustrated striker Adam Fynn got a yellow card for blocking VUT goalkeeper Obakeng Naane’s clearance.
VUT threatened to score on the counterattack as NWU pushed forward in large numbers.
Banele Hlophe, who is chasing the Golden Boot having scored four goals, had a quiet first half apart from when he unleashed a long-range shot that narrowly missed the goal on the half-hour mark.
VUT passed the ball well in the first half and grew in confidence as NWU could not penetrate their solid defence.
NWU stepped up a gear in the second half in search of that elusive goal but the final ball was disappointing, which frustrated the front two, Hlophe and Fynn.
Masehela replaced Fynn with Andile Duma with 19 minutes remaining, but the substitution failed to produce a goal.
Round 6 fixtures (Friday, 24 September):
NWU vs Wits (14:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Football, DStv channel 205)
TUT vs UJ (15:00, Tuks B-Field)
VUT vs UFS (16:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Football, DStv channel 205)
Tuks vs UKZN (18:00, Tuks Stadium, SuperSport Football, DStv channel 205)
By Charles Baloyi
Photos: Catherine Kotze/Christiaan Kotze/Varsity Sports