By Chris Totobela
Football returned to Fiddlers Green on Saturday to the delight of a handful crowd of fans who turned up on the day. The main attraction of the day was a Hollywood Bets Regional League doubleheader that saw Makhanda teams in action.
Jacaranda Aces hosted Alicedale-based Friendly City in an action-packed clash. Both teams started the game like a house on fire but it was the home side that dominated the early exchanges but failed to make use of the chances they created. Both sets of players were guilty of holding on to the ball for too long while allowing the opposition to regroup.
Long throw-in specialist Andile Ntame opened the scoring midway through the first half when a well-taken corner kick deflected off his body to the back of the net. Friendly City fought back and created their own chances but poor shooting let them down. Abachathazi took their lead to the halftime break.
The visitors started the second half stronger and took the game to Aces and were rewarded when they levelled matters with a well taken free kick on the edge of the box. Aces were stung to action as they threw everything at their opponents and forced the keeper to come up with tremendous match saving stops, one after the other. The home side took their foot off the accelerator and were made to pay as their defence was caught napping by quick inter-passing that set City’s striker free on goal and he picked his spot to give the visitors the lead. Aces’s right winger used his pace effectively but his poor decision making in the final third let him down as he seemed to try too much sometimes instead of keeping it simple.
In a dramatic last action of the game, Aces were awarded a spot kick after their attacker was brought down inside the penalty area. Lahluma Mawaba calmly slotted the penalty kick home to level matters and earned his team a point.
The referee blew the final whistle with both teams sharing the spoils with a two-all draw. It is two points dropped for Aces who controlled the better part of the game but failed to punish the opponents. Both coaches kept on shouting their disapproval of the match officials’ performance throughout the game. The match officials appeared to be caught by the fast pace of the game and even disagreed on a few decisions – the referee found himself having to overrule his assistants a couple of times.
It would seem the home side needs to work hard on their central defence pairing as they were caught for pace, often on the wrong side of defence, which led to the two goals the team conceded.
In the following game, Maru edged Port Alfred-based Young Pirates by a single goal. In the other games, newcomers Young Eagles and Mighty Forest, also from Port Alfred, played to a 2-2 stalemate while City Pirates and Bathurst’s United Eleven also drew 2-2. It was a good showing for the local sides.