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SA SOCCER NEWS
Birds held down by Brazilians 10/04/04
Three-time Castle Premiership champions Sundowns let three valuable points slip as Moroka Swallows fought back to earn a point at the Rand Stadium on Saturday afternoon

The eagerly awaited clash between Moroka Swallows and old-foe Sundowns did not disappoint the thousands of fans who flocked to the sunny Rand Stadium on Saturday.

Veteran Downs striker Daniel Mudau made a welcome return and his hunger to score showed as early as the second minute.

The 35-year skipper old Mudau ran at the familiar Swallows defence and unleashed a low drive that keeper Greg Etafia palmed out for a corner.

The hosts were not to be outdone in their backyard and respond with attacks of their own, but it was the visitors who struck first in the 12th minute.

An attempted clearance from Dan Semake after a Dennis Lota shot on goal ended in disaster when the former Hellenic player miscued his kick and sliced the ball into his own net.

Former Dube Birds player Lucas Sebona took the game to his old team-mates and hassled right-back Rufus Mokoti relentlessly.

Despite a flurry of crosses from the speedy winger, nothing was converted by Mudau or Rotson Kilambe.

Up front with Lota, Lungisani Ndlela was tightly marked by Craig Bianchi and the lanky striker was denied any significant impact in the first half. It was not entirely by his own design, with the scarcity of the aerial balls that Sebona was delivering to the Downs strikers at the other end of the field.

Shortly before the interval, Lota combined well with right midfielder Mark McVeigh who delivered a pin-point cross but the ex-Pirates man failed to keep his shot low.

The Brazilians creative midfielder Sipho Nunens picked up an injury late in the half and Paul Dolezar duly substituted him for Godfrey Sapula.

Swallows took their slender lead into the break.

The usually resolute defence of the Birds crumbled as Downs started surging forward when the game resumed.

Ivorian Siaka Tiene showed Peter Petersen a clean pair of heels and beat Nigerian international keeper Greg Etafia to begin the Brazilians come back a minute into second half.

Moments later it was 2-1 when Sapula, who had started stamping his authority in midfield, set up Tiene for his second goal of the game.

Tiene ran through a static Birds defence as Sapula played a defence-splitting pass through the middle. After evading the on-rushing Etafia, Tiene pushed the ball into an empty net to give the visitors the lead on the 64th minute.

A win seemed on the cards for the inaugural Castle Premiership champions but the men in maroon kept on the pressure.

In the 85th minute their efforts reaped reward when Pitso Lekone found the net after Bianchi and co. could not avert the danger and the former SuperSport midfielder reacted quickest to the ball.

Dolezar urged his men forward in search of an elusive win, but nothing came.

Swallows sixth draw of the season leaves them in fifth position while the Chloorkop-based outfit skip to 10th place on the Castle Premiership charts.

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