Spoils shared in relegation battle

Relegation candidates Polokwane City and Free State Stars played to a 1-1 draw in an Absa Premiership encounter that the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane City on Saturday evening.

Puleng Tlolane and Luyolo Nomandela scored within a minute of each other as the basement battle ended all square.

The teams entered the game occupying the two spots above bottom placed Golden Arrows and desperately in need of three points to ease relegation fears.

Paulus Masehe went close for the visitors in the fifth minute. The Ea Lla Koto skipper made a darting run to the near post before directing Richard Henyekane’s free-kick just over Modiri Marumo’s goal.

It was a lively opening few minutes, but this did not set the tone for the rest of the half as both teams retracted into their shells.

The first half in fact produced only one shot on target and didn’t mirror two teams that were desperate to move away from the relegation zone.

Both were reluctant to get forward and as a result the teams entered the tunnel at the break without troubling the scorers.

Vukile Mngqibisa squandered a golden opportunity to give his side the lead 10 minutes into the second stanza.

The ball fell favourably for the central defender following a goalmouth scramble, but he was unable to hit the target with the goal at his mercy.

Tlolane opened the scoring for the hosts with a superb strike in the 76th minute.

The Rise and Shine striker, who has been one of the standout players for the Limpopo side this term, hit a crisp volley from outside the area past a helpless Tshepo Motsoeneng to send the home fans into delirium.

A minute later though, it was all square.

Nomandela broke down the left flank before directing a thunderous effort into the back of the net from an acute angle to bag his second goal of the campaign.

Stars looked content with a draw and successfully saw out a nervy six minutes of stoppage time to secure a valuable point on the road and subsequently remain above City in the standings.

Polokwane City (0) 1 (Tlolane 76’)

Free State Stars (0) 1 (Nomandela 77’)

Teams:

Polokwane City: Marumo; Mthimkulu, Tshilo, Mngqibis, Molekwane, Rakhale, Sibande (Nzimande 86’), Molala, Moyana (Jembula 80’), Kanyenda (Tlolane 60’), Mncwango

Free State Stars: Motsoeneng; Mashego, Sambu, Tlhone, Kerspuy, Shabalala, Masehe, Sekola, Yende (Venter 66’), Henyekane, Nomandela (Mokoena 90+4’)