Chippa United’s winless frustration continued on Wednesday night as Polokwane City snatched a late equaliser in the 1-1 Premier League draw at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
It was the ninth successive game for the Port Elizabeth-based side without a league victory and left German-born coach Ernst Middendorp visibly frustrated and still seeking his first victory with the club.
After a unexpected rise in prominence to feature among the top teams in the PSL after switching their home base from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth, the promoted club have now slipped out of the important top eight places and are battling in 11th position.
Adding to Chippa’s pain was the fact that their dour, rearguard action to end their winless run appeared set to provide them with three elusive points until the 32 year-old former SuperSport United stalwart Jabu Maluleke came to light with a stunning 82nd minute equaliser.
A foul by Chippa’s James Okwuosa on Puleng Tlolane gave Polokwane a free-kick on the edge of the penalty and provided Maluleke with the opportunity to salvage a point with a stunning shot into the corner of the net.
Following a goalless, largely uneventful opening half, Chippa opened the score in the 53rd minute through the probing Mhlengi Cele. They played a defensive game and holding onto their lead.
The net result was that the visiting, Limpopo-based side gained a clear-cut advantage in ball possession and had twice as many scoring opportunities as the timid home side.
Then finally Polokwane’s determination and never-say-die spirit gained its reward with time running out of the match.
No one appeared happier with Maluleke’s timely equaliser than Polokwane coach Kosta Papic, who left Chippa United earlier in the season under controversial circumstances before moving to the Limpopo Province.
Another of the unfancied clubs who have come to light in the PSL this season, the belated equaliser also leaves Polokwane in fifth position and with an inviting chance of earning a place in the MTN Top8 competition.