Premium Journalist
2 minute read
27 May 2017
6:03 pm

Highlands Park relegated despite dramatic draw


Highlands Park will return to the National First Division after just one season in the top flight following a 2-2 draw with Mamelodi Sundowns at the Makhulong Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Franklin Cale of Highlands Park and Brandon Theron of Highlands Park in tears during the Absa Premiership match between Highlands Park and Mamelodi Sundowns at Makhulong Stadium. (Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix)

The result saw the Tembisa-based club ending in 16th and last position on the table after being overtaken by Baroka FC, who beat Ajax Cape Town 1-0 to claim 15th spot – which means the Limpopo side go to the promotion-relegation play-offs starting next week.

Sundowns made the early running but were unable to penetrate a determined home defence, while the Lions of the North enjoyed little possession and spent a large part of their time chasing the ball and closing down spaces.

With the Brazilians not desperate for victory, play seemed to be drifting towards half time without much incident.

But from out of the blue almost, Themba Zwane picked the ball up in the 36th minute out on the left flank before cutting in and curling a sublime shot into the top corner from 30-yards out.

And it got worse for the PSL rookies just four minutes later when Yannick Zakri burst through on goal and drew what was deemed an illegal challenge from goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini. The resultant penalty was coolly slotted home by Thabo Nthethe.

But Highlands Park were to pull a goal back two minutes before half-time when Seun Ledwaba burst into the box and beat Denis Onyango at the near post.

Sundowns were close to adding a third shortly after the restart when a goalmouth scramble saw the ball hitting the post before Kapini blocked the follow up from Tinyani Mabunda with his foot.

The hosts wasted a great chance to level the scores in the 51st minute when defender Mothibi Mvala steered his parting shot wide of an open goal after Onyango had come off his line.

Franklyn Cale also had chances for Highlands Park, but Onyango did well to save both a shot and a header.

In front of a full house hoping for a minor miracle, the Tembisa side continued to probe for a goal and with seven minutes to play, Mvala had an almost carbon copy of his earlier miss, with exactly the same result.

Mvala finally got it right when his looping header levelled matters in the 94th minute, but there was not enough time for the third goal needed to win the game and avoid relegation.