Mamelodi Sundowns were held to a 1-1 draw by a resilient Sekhukhune United side in a Premier Soccer League match which was played on Saturday afternoon.
Peter Shalulile opened the scoring to hand Masandawana the lead in the first half - making it three goals in two matches. However, Babina Noko fought back after the restart and they levelled matters through their captain Linda Mntambo at the 2010 Fifa World Cup venue, Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rhulani Mokwena had made just one change to the Sundowns team which thumped Kaizer Chiefs 4-0 last weekend. Siphelele Mkhulise replaced Andile Jali in the starting line-up with the latter being named among the substitutes having picked up a knock against Chiefs.
Masandawana were up against a Sekhukhune side which was wounded having succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Richards Bay last weekend. Orlando Pirates loanee Tshegofatso Mabasa and former Kaizer Chiefs target Victor Letsoalo led the attack as coach Kaitano Tembo looked to mastermind a win over Sundowns.
Sundowns enjoyed a lion's share of possession as they moved the ball around the Sekhukhune's half while looking for openings in the hosts' defence. However, Babina Noko's backline looked solid and impenetrable with the experienced Daniel Cardoso marshalling the defence.
The Tshwane giants upped the tempo after the half-hour mark with Peter Shalulile playing a through pass for Themba Zwane. However, Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya produced a last-ditch tackle to deny the Sundowns playmaker a chance to shoot at goal from inside the home side's box, before Khuliso Mudau missed the target from close range.
The pressure was piled on Sekhukhune and their defence finally crumbled on the stroke of half-time after a good move by the 12-time PSL champions where Gaston Sirino got in behind the hosts' defence before playing a low cross which was turned home by Shalulile to hand Sundowns a 1-0 lead heading into the half-time break in Polokwane.
It took just a minute for Babina Noko to level matters after the restart after pressing Zwane in the middle of the mark and forcing the former Bafana Bafana star into giving away possession. Mabasa quickly set up Mntambo who made no mistake as he beat goalkeeper Ronwen Williams at the near post to make it 1-1.
Masandawana responded by surging forward in numbers with the reigning MTN8 champions looking to restore their lead. However, the visitors couldn't keep their shots on target as Zwane's thumping shot went inches wide of keeper Toaster Nsabata's left upright, before Sirino'a attempt from distance shaved the top of the crossbar.
Thabiso Kutumela, Sipho Mbule, Thapelo Morena, Lyle Lakay and Lesedi Kapinga were all introduced by the visitors who were pushing for a late winning goal and Tembo replaced Mabasa with a defender Denwin Farmer. Sundowns were only limited to long-range shots that were gathered comfortably by Nsabata and ultimately, the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Despite the draw, Sundowns moved up to the third spot on the league standings and they are scheduled to face Stellenbosch at home on Wednesday. Sekhukhune climbed up to eighth place on the table ahead of their clash with Swallows FC on Tuesday.