Birds hand Stars unlikely draw

A mistake at the back three minutes from time by Moroka Swallows handed Free State Stars their first league point in four matches as they drew 2-2 in their Absa Premiership match on Saturday afternoon at Goble Park.

Rudi Isaacs and Lary Cohen each gave the Birds the lead but Stars twice replied with goals from Sadate Ouro-Akoriko and Abdul Basit to bring an end to a three game losing streak.

Isaacs put Swallows ahead with only two minutes on the board. The centre-back benefitted from some horrendous defending by the home side and he rose the highest in the box to head home from a corner kick cross.

It was Isaacs’ second goal of the week after he had scored the winner for Swallows six minutes from midweek in their 2-1 home win against Polokwane City.

Stars nearly hit back three minutes later when their captain Paulus Masehe unleashed a long range shot which Swallows keeper Greg Etafia managed to get both hands onto, he couldn’t handle it but the crossbar came to his rescue as it ricocheted off the post.

Lerato Chabangu tried to extend his team’s lead in the 28th minute when he curled a wonderful shot from just outside the box which stung the fingers of Stars keeper Daniel Agyei but the shotstopper parried the ball away.

The second half started off on a pedestrian pace for both sides as they showed little effort in attacking under the soaring summer season heat of the Free State Province.

Ea Lla Koto had their first opportunity of the second stanza in the 65th minute when Swallows failed to clear their lines from corner kick and the ball was recycled for Sibusiso Mthethwa who saw his 25-yard low long range shot comfortably saved by Etafia.

A minute later the home side went even closer when Masehe again tried his luck from range as he curled his effort from 20-yards out on goal but his right footed shot agonisingly went wide.

Stars were starting to pile the pressure on Swallows midway through the second half and it finally paid off. Swallows were slow to clear the ball from a corner kick and Ouro-Akoriko was perfectly placed at the back post to tap the ball home.

Swallows showed character seven minutes later as they went in front again. Substitute Nkosinathi Ogle floated a lovely cross to the back post and Cohen was on hand to head home to make it 2-1 in the 79th minute.

In the 87th minute Zeca Marques’ side gifted Stars an equaliser after a mix up at the back. Cohen collided and his keeper Etafia which resulted in the keeper losing the ball in his hands and Basit was on hand to direct it home.

Free State Stars (0) 2 (Ouro-Akoriko 72’, Basit 87’)

Moroka Swallows (1) 2 (Isaacs 2’, Cohen 79’)

TEAMS

Stars: Agyei, Ouro-Akoriko, Thlone, Masehe, Tshabalala, Wiltwer, Mthethwa (Kerspuy 81’), Venter (Sijoko 63’), Bobe, Basit (Sekola 95’), Mokoena

Swallows: Etafia, Isaacs, da Costa, Mokgothu, Mbekile, Nergadze (Bareng 58’), Cohen, Mabalane, Chabangu (Ogle 67’), Nomvethe, Manqele (Mungomeni 88’)