A 10-man AmaZulu hung onto a 1-1 away draw to Chippa United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Friday night’s Absa Premiership action. Steve Barker’s boys have started playing like they want to stay in the top flight more than any other team, even showing more courage than what this league campaign has been used to from them. The red card which Bongi Ntuli received just five minutes into the game looked to derail the team’s recent good run, then the courage settled in as they pushed forward at every opportunity that they received.
First it was Roscoe Pietersen who headed wide from a corner just two minutes after the sending off. Then Bornwell Mwape missed a glorious chance to put the visiting team ahead. In the 22nd minute Chippa coach Ernst Middendrop made a tactical change replacing a defensive minded player for the attacking Siyabulela Shai.
The move was a good one when looking at the influence the player brought onto the pitch and the attacking options it gave the Chilli Boys. Nevertheless it was Usuthu who drew first blood when in the 35th minute Mbulelo “OJ” Mabizela headed home unmarked inside the box from a well placed free kick. Against the odds Mabizela scored his third goal since joining the KZN club in the mid season transfer window.
On the stroke of half-time Chippa drew level through an own goal by Pietersen. AmaZulu were finding it difficult in dealing with the continuous attack from Middendorp’s men and during another such attack the defence found themselves all over the place. Pietersen eventually turned a low cross into his own net after the ball had initially deflected off another player first.
The second half virtually became the Energy Murambadoro show as the visiting goalkeeper kept his team in the game producing one save after the other. Occasionally he would employ time wasting tactics almost to give himself some breathing space. Not even a yellow card for the same offence stopped him from wasting anymore.
Barker’s boys left PE with a point, even after spending more than 80 minutes a player short. It may seem that the fat lady hasn’t sung just yet for the famous Durban club.