On a windy Friday night, Mitchells Plain United travelled to Khayelitsha to face a strong Cape Town All Stars team that featured a number of players with PSL and First Division experience.
The opening exchanges were frantic with some ferocious tackling from both sides, desperate to get a break through. Cape Town All Stars had the better of the opening 20 minutes with MPU keeper Zain Gasnola twice making brilliant diving saves to deny them.
Gradually however MPU started finding their rhythm and started to control the game. They drew first blood when Suhayl Allie, brilliantly beat one defender before holding off the Cape Town All Stars left back to deliver a good cross. Darren Omaticus anticipating the cross, timed his run to perfection and with a good strike into the bottom left corner of the net, he gave MPU united the lead. This spurred MPU on and they dominated play until the break creating a few chances but unfortunately not converting any. Half time arrived with MPU leading 1-0.
MPU started the 2nd half in control, creating a few good chances with the best one falling to Orlin Powell, who did very well to beat 2 defenders but fired agonizingly wide when he was one-on-one with the keeper.
Cape Town All Stars upped the tempo in an attempt to equalise. While MPU tackled very well and held their own defensively, they let themselves down with some poor clearances. From a free kick in the 72nd minute, they had two opportunities to clear their line, but failed to do so on both occasions and All Stars bundled in the equaliser.
Things went from bad to worse for MPU when their Centre Back JP Faruggia was given a red card after receiving his 2nd yellow for a tackle on the All Stars right wing. Cape Town All Stars nearly had the winner in the 78th minute but again Zain Gasnola dived full length to his left to get his fingertips to a ball that was heading for the top corner. MPU however hung onto the result with ten men, to claim a point away from home.
Despite the slight rain and the aggressive tackling and closing down from both teams, the crowd were treated to some good football in a game that could have gone either way.
While Zane Gasnola’s saves definitely kept MPU in the game and MPU can feel happy about a point away from home, there is a sense that if they had capitalized on the chances they created toward the end of the first half and the start of the second, they might have come away from Khayelitsha with three points instead of one.
As with the first game, there are alot more positives than negatives for coach Mark Harrison to take into the next game against Mbekweni United on Saturday at 15h00 at the Santos Academy in Lansdowne.