Kaizer Chiefs spurned the chance for a six-point lead at the top of the Premier Soccer League, as they allowed Cole Alexander an 89th-minute equaliser for Bidvest Wits to salvage a 1-1 draw at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
Samir Nurkovic had headed Chiefs into the lead in the 36th minute. The Serb struck the crossbar near the end of the game as Amakhosi appeared to have done enough in a surprisingly sprightly performance after five months of inactivity.
But tenacious Wits clawed an equaliser through Alexander and Amakhosi had to be content to maintain a four-point advantage over Mamelodi Sundowns with the second-placed reigning champions having played a game less.
This might justifiably be called the first actual football game of the restart yet.
Whatever Chiefs did in their Zoom and Pilates sessions at home, and return to training, it must have been good. At times they looked as though they had not been off the field for five months.
It might help them that — one might suggest with a touch of cheek — to some extent Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp’s soccer was Covid-19 football already. Aggressive with attrition, direct and efficient, and suited to circumstances like these, perhaps. And of course, there are those set pieces Chiefs are so good at.
Faced with a near-polished Amakhosi, Wits lifted themselves to land punches the other way and scramble a share of the spoils.
In the opening 15 minutes Yagan Sasman’s cross from deep on the left found Nurkovic to head powerfully and have Wits goalkeeper Ricardo Goss stretching to tip over.
Chiefs took the lead from a corner by Lebogang Manyama, to striker Nurkovic, who got up perfectly and nod past Goss.
Daniel Akpeyi almost made life difficult for Amakhosi when he parried a dipping free-kick from Deon Hotto five minutes before the break, ending with Alexander shooting onto the head of Kgotso Moleko.
Wits’ recovery of their own steam made the start to the second half bear a resemblance even more of a real football game.
Nurkovic’s cutback set up Khama Billiat alone in the area, who skied his effort. Wits midfielder Phathutshedzo Nange’s chip found substitute Bienvenu Eva Nga to turn and make Akpeyi block.
With Wits tiring Chiefs seemed capable of winding down the clock for the final 20 minutes.
But soon after Nurkovic curled a strike onto the Wits bar with the keeper beaten, Chiefs’ defence was caught ball-watching. Substitute wing Kgaogelo Sekgota made ground down the right and chipped across the area to find Alexander in the middle to sweep past Akpeyi.
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