Cape derby ends all square

Ajax Cape Town and Santos played to a 1-1 draw in an action-packed derby at the Athlone Stadium on Wednesday night.

With local fans out in their numbers, it was a thrilling game between two sides both clearly intent on grabbing local bragging rights.

Ajax had the better of the opening stages as they looked more comfortable on the ball, keeping possession nicely with some slick passing.

The first chance of the game arrived in the 10th minute when Ajax winger Sammehg Doutie drifted inside and sent Mabhudi Khenyeza through on goal.

Khenyeza’s shot was well struck and goal bound, but Santos keeper Francis Chansa pulled off a fantastic diving save.

Three minutes later the People’s Team had a great opportunity of their own to score the opening goal when Eleazar Rodgers burst straight through on goal, but he was unable to keep his shot on target as Dipsy Selowane’s persistence unnerved him.

In the 21st minute Doutie’s inexperience showed as he failed to make the most of a counter-attack, failing to pick out a well-positioned Khenyeza as he tried in vain to beat Chansa from a tight angle.

As the half wore on the People’s Team started to exert their influence on the game and came close to fashioning a goal when Romano Scott’s teasing cross narrowly eluded Tyren Arendse, who had made a good run from deep.

Graham King looked a constant threat for Santos and came close with a rasping drive after 33 minutes, and then also had a goal ruled out for off-sides.

For a brief period in the second half Ajax again enjoyed superiority, but they were made to pay for their failure to clear King’s corner as Musa Otieno pounced gleefully from close range to bulge the back of the net in the 51st minute.

As Ajax came storming back looking to level the game, Santos raised their game defensively, frustrating the Urban Warriors with their high commitment levels.

In fact, no player pulled out of any challenges as matters became heated on the field — Santos lost both Rodgers and Romano Scott to injury as they put their bodies on the line for their team’s cause.

As the game headed into the final 10 minutes it appeared as if the Santos defence had done enough to secure the win, but Ajax never let up and were finally rewarded after 83 minutes when Khenyeza took advantage of a slip in the centre of the Santos defence and expertly slotted past Chansa to make it 1-1.

It was Ajax who looked more likely to grab a winner as substitute Mkhanyiseli Siwahla drew a fine save out of Chansa, while Khenyeza also came close when he smashed a shot just wide of the mark. — Sapa

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