Result: Highlands Park 1-1 Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns missed the chance to close the gap on Kaizer Chiefs once again after failing to beat Highlands Park on Friday night.
Sundowns made three changes, as they were boosted by the return of Gaston Sirino from suspension alongside Tebogo Langerman and Sibusiso Vilakazi, who were both recalled.
Highlands got off to a dream start as Peter Shalulile opened ahead in the sixth minute with a cracking volley into the the top corner for his 13th league goal of the season.
Pitso Mosimane’s charges came close to levelling matters was on the half-hour mark where Sirino found a pocket of space inside the box but dragged a low shot just wide of the far post, while Themba Zwane also came close to finding the equaliser for Sundowns with ten minutes left of the first stanza with a first-time that was parried over the bar by goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini.
The Brazilians eventually levelled matters five minutes before the break after Sphelele Mkhulise powered a header into the bottom corner Sirino’s lofted delivery outside the box.
Sundowns were under pressure in the early stages of the second stanza as Mosimane made a double change on the hour-mark after bringing on Promise Mkhuma and Keletso Makgalwa for veteran duo of Zwane and Vilakazi.
Mkhuma had a chance to give Masandawana the lead in the 73rd minute after going clear on goal on the left side of the box from a long ball but his attempted lob sailed over the far post as the frustration began to rise for the defending league champions.
The game was in the balance in the latter stages, but Luckyboy Mokoena almost snatched the winner for Highlands in the last five minutes with a screamer from range that was smothered by shot-stopper Denis Onyango.
Sundowns almost found a dramatic winner in stoppage time after Lyle Lakay was assigned to take a free-kick straight off the bench but his threatening effort missed the far post by a whisker and the sides had to settled for a share of spoils in the end, leaving Sundowns three points behind Chiefs.
Here’s how they lined up:
Highlands: 16. Kapini, 10. Mokoena, 21. Mbhele, 5. Fransman, 20. Ramoraka, 2. Mzava, 4. Makhuala, 14. Mvala, 38. Shalulile, 43. Mbatha, 18.Nyatama.
Subs: 1. Heugh, 19. Munyai, 34. Motsepe, 6. Letsholonyane, 12. Mogaila, 23. Msimango, 25. Thalente, 27. Jooste, 24. Rae.
Sundowns: 14. Onyango, 33. Maboe, 4. Langerman, 3. Nascimento, 2. Madisha, 40. Coetzee, 21. Mkhulise, 8. Kekana, 10. Sirino, 18. Zwane, 11. Vilakazi.
Subs: 30. Pieterse, 26. Makgalwa, 36. Mkhuma, 13. Mabunda, 32. Lukhubeni, 15. Jali, 28. Laffor, 7. Lakay.
(By Soccer Laduma)