Wednesday Apr 24, 2019. 20:36
Baroka FC twice came from a goal down to hold Free State Stars 2-2 in an Absa Premiership match at Goble Park on Wednesday evening.
The result sees both teams edge away from the relegation playoff berth – now occupied by Chippa United on 24 points – with Ea Lla Koto on 26 points and Bakgaga on 25 points.
Stars started the match strongly and tested Baroka goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze with a few early attempts.
On 20 minutes the hosts’ aggression paid dividends when Mpho Khabane sent an effort beyond the reach of the goal minder to put Ea Lla Koto 1-0 up.
The Limpopo visitors looked for a quick replay through the likes of Mduduzi Mdantsane and Collins Makgaka, but Stars’ defence held firm up to half time to ensure they held a narrow lead at the break.
Yet Bakgaga needed just five minutes of the second half to restore parity, with Lawrence Ntswane taking advantage of some slack defending from the hosts to make it 1-1.
In addition, Baroka had also introduced Jemondre Dickens off the bench in an effort to boost their attack and put some pressure on the Free Staters.
However, Stars attacker Sibusiso Hlubi put his team back in the ascendancy with a fine finish on 55 minutes, continuing his good form after also netting against Highlands Park last week.
But if Ea Lla Koto thought they had turned the game decisively in their favour, they were very much mistaken. Makgaka brought Baroka with a fine strike in the 73rd minute, bringing the score to 2-2.
A tense final 20 minutes played out, with both teams trying to push for a win while also being loathe to leave themselves exposed to a counter attack, and in the end a point apiece was a fair reflection of the game.
The teams will return to Absa Premiership action on Sunday 28 April, with Stars away to Golden Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium and Baroka at home to AmaZulu at the old Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Free State Stars (1) 2 (Khabane 20’, Hlubi 55’)
Baroka FC (0) 2 (Ntswane 50’, Makgaka 73’)
Stars: Mbambo, Mobbie, Mahamutsa, Mathumo, Khabane (Kizza 52’), Jappie, Masehe, Makhaula, Hlubi (Dlamini 64’), Tchilimbou (Mokhuoane 76’), Rodgers
Baroka: Chipezeze, Kgoetyane, Gebhardt, Makume, Ntswane, Patjie, Mdantsane, Madigoe (Dickens 50’), Makgantai, Makgaka (Semenya 90’), Sibiya