Home Sport Brave Polokwane hold out for draw with Highlands

Brave Polokwane hold out for draw with Highlands

178
SHARE

The draw meant that Polokwane changed places with AmaZulu who now find themselves rock bottom. Highlands will move into the seventh position on the latest standings.

Charlton Mashumba of Polokwane City celebrates goal with teammates during their Absa Premiership 2019/20 match against Highlands Park on Saturday. Picture: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – Polokwane City lifted themselves off the bottom of the log but are not out of the relegation zone following their 1-all draw with Highland Park in the Absa Premiership match at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The draw meant that Polokwane changed places with AmaZulu who now find themselves rock bottom. Highlands will move into the seventh position on the latest standings.

Both teams fielded vastly changed line-ups for the match. Highlands Park coach Owen Da Gama made six changes and his Polokwane City counterpart Clinton Larsen went one better with seven.

The unfamiliar combinations resulted in numerous passes going astray for most of the first half, and neither side could strike up cohesion to create goalscoring chances.

Polokwane, a side that usually sits deep and tight and then pounces when counter-attack opportunities arise, took the game to their opponents. They were penetrative but in the final third they lost contact with their frontrunners.

The bulk of Highlands’ attacks were sprung via runs down the centre of the field but all too often they turned over possession to opposition on the fringes of the penalty area.

Highlands did change tact later in the half and waged probing attacks down their left channel. On occasions, they did manage to pull defenders out of position but then failed to capitalise on the resultant spaces behind the opposition’s rearguard.

On the half-hour mark, Polokwane leftback Njabulo Buthelezi stalked into the firing line and found himself in possession out wide, but close to the Highlands penalty area. He struck from an acute angle at a time the Highlands keeper Zambabian Tapuwa Kapini was well out of position, but his effort was well past the target.

Ten minutes later, Buthelezi had another chance, but Kapini gathered safely.

As play wound its course to the break, Highlands were well on top but were unable to make the breakthrough.

As the second-half play progressed, Highlands started to build from deep options and although the ploy proved penetrative, their strikers never in positions to capitalise.

Polokwane managed a few counters into the opposition’s deep-end, and one such sortie just past the hour mark provided a platform for the opening goal of the match. Polokwane striker Charlton Mashumba connected with a header from a goalmouth cross from the right and the effort ricocheted off defender Limbikani Mzava for an own goal (1-0).

Three minutes later, Namibian Peter Shalulile restored the stalemate with a header from a Highlands corner (1-1).

Moments later Shalulile threatened again, but this time Zimbabwean goalkeeper George Chigova averted danger for Polokwane.

Highlands dominated in the closing stages by which time they ran up a one-sided 7-1 corner count, but Polokwane held out bravely for a draw by the skin of their teeth.