Luckyboy Mokoena and Ricardo Williams netted for the Lions of the North, while Lidoda Duvha’s goals were scored by Themba Zwane, and Mwape Musonda
Owen Da Gama’s Highlands were hoping to secure their first victory of the 2018/19 season having drawn 1-1 with Orlando Pirates at the Orlando Stadium last weekend.
Mothobi Mvala, who is the Lions of the North captain, made his return to the team’s starting line-up after missing their maiden game of the campaign which was against Bucs.
Da Gama’s counterpart, Joel Masutha was keen to guide Leopards to their second league win of the new campaign with his side having defeated Polokwane City at the Peter Mokaba Stadium last weekend.
Karabo Tshepe, who scored the only goal of the match as Lidoda Duvha beat their provincial rivals Rise and Shine 1-0, was deployed in midfield by Masutha.
The Lions of the North were the better side in the opening stages of the game as they were able to press Leopards in search of an early goal.
Siphiwe Mahlangu managed to get his head to the ball inside the Leopards box, but the Highlands attacker’s effort skimmed wide of the left upright with the visitors’ defence exposed.
The deadlock was then broken by hosts in the 21st minute and it was Luckyboy Mokoena, who scored with a wonderful long-range shot which beat Leopards goalkeeper Rotshidzwa Muleka hands down.
Leopards, who had conceded their first goal of the season, were then given an opportunity to respond with a goal after they were awarded a free-kick in a promising area.
However, Tsheamo Mashoene’s curling effort from the subsequent set-piece was well-saved by Highlands Park’s veteran shot-stopper Tapuwa Kapini, who was very alert in the hosts’ goal-posts.
It was end-to-end stuff with the half-time break fast approaching as both teams searched for goals.
Joseph Mhlongo, who was one of Leopards’ best players in the National First Division (NFD) last season, saw his long-range shot miss the target without troubling Zimbabwean keeper Kapini.
Mvala also tried his luck from range, but the Highlands Park skipper’s effort was blocked inside the Lidoda Duvha’s box with 26-year-old Muleka rooted to the spot.
The score was 1-0 to Highlands Park at the interval with Leopards having failed to beat Kapini in the first half.
Leopards applied some pressure on the Highlands Park defence and they were awarded a free-kick in a good position a few minutes into the second-half.
Mwape Musonda, who scooped last season’s NFD Golden Boot, stepped up and fired the resultant free-kick wide of the target.
Masutha then introduced Ivan Mahangwahaya for Mhlongo, who was no longer effective for Lidoda Duvha, as the visitors looked to restore parity.
The Lions of the North were able to sit back and launch quick counter attacks with Leopards doing most of the attacking in the closing stages of the game.
Highlands Park’s second half substitute Ricardo Williams was able to make an immediate impact as the midfielder grabbed a late goal to make it 2-0 with Leopards defence caught ball watching.
However, Leopards launched a dramatic late comeback as Themba Ndlovu scored in stoppage time to make it 2-1 with Kapini well-beaten.
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Musonda then grabbed another late goal for Leopards to ensure that the enthralling encounter ended in a 2-2 draw on the day.
The draw took the Lions of the North to 12th place on the league standings, while Lidoda Duvha climbed up to fourth place on the table.