26 January 2020 – The highly anticipated Mpumalanga derby concluded in a 1-1 draw as Mbombela United came from behind to steal a point against TS Galaxy in a Glad Africa Championship encounter on Sunday, 26 January at Kameelrivier Stadium.
A goal by the on-form, Khayelihle Shozi was cancelled out by a penalty by Felix Badenhorst for both sides to share the spoils in a highly entertaining clash.
As expected, it was the hosts who got things off and took the game to their opponent with their enterprising build ups. On-form attacking midfielder, Khayelihle Shozi wasted no time in harassing the United defence with his trademark hazy runs. The nippy forward almost opened the scoring as early as the sixth minute when a good build up found him on the edge of the box but his shot was fired wide off target.
Midfield maestro, Nation Ndlovu who did well in pulling the strings in the middle of the park asked questions of the keeper in the 13th minute with a well taken strike that went inches over the bar.
Shozi was again in the picture 20 minutes into the game when he did well to beat two defenders to unleash a powerful strike which was deflected away from goal. The Rockets continued piling on the pressure from all angles and were almost rewarded in the 24th minute when Sanele Barns eased pasted a defender to cut back a cross which was not met by any of the Galaxy forwards.
The relentless attack by Galaxy saw the visitors opting to hit them on the counter and almost did just that in the 34th minute when Thulane Ndlela found himself one on one with Galaxy skipper, Luvo Mpakumpaku who did well to come out and gather before the midfielder could take a shot.
The skipper did well again just before the break to close the angle when Bongani Ndhlovu also found himself one on one with Mpakumpaku but his tame effort was easily gathered by the shot stopper.
Galaxy continued from where they left off in the second stanza and were rewarded five minutes into the half when a brilliant run by Sizwe Mdlinzo concluded with good ball to Shozi who turned his marker and slot it home to give the Rockets the deserved lead.
With Galaxy in the driving seat, the visitors struggled keeping up with the pace and passing game of the Rockets.
Neo Marks attempted a strike from far out but his ambitious effort found Mpakumpaku on high alert to make the save. From the restart, a quick counter saw Barns having the opportunity to make it two for the hosts after a good run on the right and into the box concluded with a well taken strike that went into the keeper’s hands on the hour mark.
The visitors did however manage to level matters in the 65th minute when Kingston Nkatha was fouled in the box for substitute, Felix Badenhorst to step up and send Mpakumpaku the wrong direction to make it 1-1.
Both sides grew in confidence with the hope of find the lead. The hosts tried putting a few build ups together but nothing came of it.
United almost doubled the lead in the 80th minute through Badenhorst who unleashed a thunderous strike which was brilliantly saved by Mpakumpaku.
Substitute Sefako Matlala brought in a spike of energy in the Galaxy attack and almost made an immediate impact after coming on for Siyabonga Khumalo. A great run from the substitute almost concluded with a goal after his well-timed cross failed to be met by the oncoming Tshepo Chaine.
The disappointing draw for the Rockets will need to be immediately put behind by Coach Dan Malesela’s charges as they face Moroka Swallows in their next match at home.