Ajax, Sundowns reach stalemate
Mamelodi Sundowns were unable to return to winning ways as they conceded a late goal at the Athlone Stadium in a 1-1 draw with Ajax Cape Town.
Things were looking good for Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund until a late onslaught by the Cape side saw Terror Fanteni canceling out Peter Ndlovu?s first half strike.
Saturday's loss to Orlando Pirates hardly seemed to have dampened the 'Urban Warriors' spirits as they started the match in a positive fashion, taking the game to the Brazilians.
For their part, and most likely the result of their failure to win any of their last five games, Sundowns looked tentative and this was reflected by Oscar Ntwagae horribly under-hitting a back-pass to goalkeeper Calvin Marlin.
This blunder allowed Ajax striker Russell Mwafulirwa a clear run at goal, but electing to use the outside of his right foot instead of his left foot enabled Marlin to pull off an excellent save.
While it was the home team who looked more sprightly early on, it was the 'Brazilians' who took the lead, thanks to a Ndlovu goal in the 30th minute.
A great bit of vision by Esrom Nyandoro enabled the veteran Zimbabwean striker to beat the Ajax offside trap before calmly rounding Hans Vonk and slotting the ball into an empty net.
Just before the half-time break Fanteni fashioned a goal-scoring chance for the 'Urban Warriors' when he brushed off Benson Mhlongo's challenge, but good anticipation by Marlin meant the Ajax striker was unable to get a shot away.
The Pretoria side started the second stanza strongly and Ndlovu was quickly amongst the action again as he fired in a shot from the edge of the area in the 50th minute, but his effort was dragged wide.
A minute later the Cape crowd was provided with a moment of brilliance by two footballers who once played their trade in Europe - Ndlovu showed his class to bring down Elias Ngwepe's cross on his chest before hammering his volley goal-wards, only to see Vonk pull off a breathtaking save.
As the game reached the final quarter, Ajax upped the tempo as they went in search of an equalizer and Fanteni was somewhat unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty when he was caught in the chest by a clumsy Ntwagae challenge in the 78th minute.
Four minutes later substitute Nathan Paulse was equally unlucky to see his looping header rebound off the cross bar.
The resultant corner found its way to Paulse, whose shot was cleared off the line.
By this stage of.the game the pressure applied by the Cape side was relentless and it was another mistake by Ntwagae which lead to a deserved equaliser, which was clinically scored by Fanteni, who slotted the ball through Marlin's legs after a slip-up in defence.
Sundowns did, however, almost manage to grab a winner when Manqoba Ngwenya headed goal-wards, but again Vonk was up to the challenge, pulling off an outstanding save to ensure the log-leaders grabbed a share of the spoils.
Ajax Cape Town (4-4-2): Vonk, Moon, Ferreira, Bageta, Jenniker, Fransman (Scott 54), Enoh, Shumana, Doutie (Allie 61), Mwafulirwa (Paulse 70), Fanteni.
Mamelodi Sundowns (4-5-1): Marlin, Mere, Lekgothoane, Mhlongo, Ntwagae, Dladla, Nyandoro, Carelse, Ngwepe, Moriri (Acuna 71), Ndlovu (Ngwenya 82).
Match report by Anthony McLennan/Backpagepix