Bidvest Wits’ Absa Premiership title hopes were dealt a blow on Saturday evening when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Chippa United at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg.
Looking to close the gap on log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, the Clever Boys had to fight back from a goal down just to claim a point against an in-form Chilli Boys team who put up an impressive showing – especially in the first half.
The result leaves Wits still three points behind ‘Downs, with the leaders set to face Kaizer Chiefs away in their match in hand later on Saturday night.
Chippa put up a superb display in the first 45 minutes and were arguably unlucky to be just 1-0 up heading into the break. Their goal arrived in the 17th minute when Xola Mlambo teed up Thamsanqa Sangweni to fire home a fearsome volley from a tight angle.
It was the first league goal conceded by the Clever Boys’ defence since a 2-1 win over Maritzburg United on February 24.
The Eastern Cape side enjoyed the majority of possession and succeeded in neutralising any threat Wits could pose, with the home side’s only notable moment in attack a tame header on target from Sibusiso Vilakazi in the 27th minute which was easily cleared off the line.
Wits were also unsettled by an incident involving midfielder Papy Faty, who appeared to feint on the sidelines after suffering a dizzy spell. He was replaced by Ben Motshwari just over 10 minutes before the end of the first half.
The hosts made another change at the start of the second half, sending on Joaquim Lupeta in place of the anonymous Henrico Botes, while Chippa put on striker Lerato Manzini in place of winger Joseph Malongoane.
Wits looked much sharper in attack as a result of Lupeta’s introduction and just before the hour mark they equalised through Sibusiso Vilakazi, who scored with a glancing header after being left completely unmarked at a corner kick.
On 78 minutes the Clever Boys should have claimed the lead, with a free kick evading several players in the box before finding the head of Lupeta virtually under the crossbar, but the substitute somehow put his effort over the target.
Wits certainly looked the likelier scorers as the match clock ticked toward fulltime, but they were unable to find another way through a resilient Chilli Boys defence.
Bidvest Wits (0) 1 (Vilakazi 59’)
Chippa United (1) 1 (Sangweni 17’)
Wits: Josephs, Allie, Mkhwanazi, Khumalo, Hlanti, Pelembe, Ntshangase, Faty (Motshwari 34’), Klate (Sheppard 90+1’), Vilakazi, Botes (Lupeta 46’)
Chippa: Akpeyi, Thopola, Maponyane, Okwuosa, Mthiyane, Malongoane (L. Manzini 46’), Sangweni, X. Mlambo, Mbenyane (Zuke 82’), Sali, Zulu (Mbokoma 65’)
Courtesy of PSL