Title-chasing Stars held by Chippa

Title-chasing Platinum Stars have been held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened Chippa United in their Absa Premiership clash at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Robert Ng’ambi gave the hosts an early lead, but Andile Mbenyane rescued what could be a vital point for the Chilli Boys in the second half. The result means Dikwena are three points behind league leaders Kaizer Chiefs, but have played a game more.

Stars were without reliable goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane and he was replaced by Botswana international Kabelo Dambe, while Henrico Botes was rested and replaced by Siphelele Mthembu.

The home were ahead inside four minutes with a simple goal. A free-kick from Thuso Phala was played into the box and Ng’ambi scored his fourth goal of the season when he headed home.

Tashrique Goldman punched away a Mogakolodi Ngele free-kick as Dikwena continued to press, but Benjani showed some threat at the other end when he forced Dambe, playing his first PSL game of the season, into a fine one-handed save.

Stars were convinced they should have had a penalty when Lindokuhle Mbatha was hauled down in the box by Rudiger Gilbert, but referee Daniel Bennett saw nothing wrong. TV replays suggested there was contact.

Phala had an excellent opportunity to restore the lead when he was sent clear on goal but his chip over Goldman was cleared by Vuyisile Ntombayithethi before it crossed the line.

William Twala looked the most lively in attack for Chippa and his shot from just outside the area went inches wide.

Goldman then made a fine save from Ngele as Stars threatened a second, but they were stunned midway through the second half when Chippa found a soft equaliser.

Twala’s cross from the right found an unmarked Mbenyane and he had the simplest of heads to bring Chippa level.

Ng’ambi was inches away from restoring the home side’s lead when he connected with Vuyo Mere’s cross, but his header came back off the crossbar and was collected by Goldman.

Stars pushed forward for a winner in the closing stages, but the Chippa defence held firm for one of their best results in what has been a torrid season.

Both teams will be involved in crunch clashes next up, Stars travel to league leaders Kaizer Chiefs on April 28, while Chippa have a relegation six-pointer against Ajax Cape Town the day before.

Platinum Stars (1) 1 (Ng’ambi 4’)

Chippa United (0) 1 (Mbenyane 67’)

Teams:

Platinum Stars: Dambe, Mere, Gumede, Mhlongo, Ngwepe, Mkhabela (Msomi 46’), Phala, Nga'mbi, Ngele, S Mthembu (T Mthembu 61’), Mbatha (Malokase 71’)

Chippa United: Goldman, Mtombayithethi, Gilbert, Mvalo, Okwuosa, Sarr, Sali (Carelse 63’), Twala, Mwaruwari (Qalanto 61’), Mbenyane, Mbekile (Dlamini 46’)