Wits sneak past Arrows in dramatic penalty shoot-out to reach MTN8 semis
Three red cards, four goals, both coaches dismissed and a sudden-death penalty shootout – there could not have been a far more eventful 2017-18 season-opener than Bidvest Wits’ penalties MTN8 quarterfinal win against Lamontville Golden Arrows.
Referee Phillip Tinyani had no real grasp on this fast-paced, physical game at Bidvest Stadium on Friday night that ended 2-2 after normal and then extra time, and was won 4-3 in the shootout by the defending champions.
Lerato Lamola in the 12th minute and Kudakwashe Mahachi in 23rd gave Arrows a 2-0 lead. James Keene equalised in the 26th and 61st.
Wits' new Serbian defender Slavko Damjanovic's debut lasted just 21 minutes before he was red-carded for a clumsy challenge. Danny Phiri earned a second booking three minutes into first-half added time.
Steven Pienaar made his debut, and first match in SA domestic football in 16 years, as an 84th-minute Wits substitute for Daylon Claasen.
Wits might have had a rough start to the game, but some weak officiating by Tinyani – too often behind the pace, and over-ruling what seemed a legitimate Reeve Frosler goal in the last 10 minutes – denied the Clever Boys victory within normal time.
At the end, Tinyani lost control, emotions spilled over on both benches and both coaches, Gavin Hunt and Clinton Larsen, were sent to the stands too just before half time of extra time.
Just after that break, Arrows' Siyabonga Dube head-butted substitute Gabadinho Mhango for the game's third red card.
Arrows took advantage of early misunderstanding in a Wits defence where centrebacks Damjanovic and Thulani Hlatshwayo started lacking cohesion. Left-back Lehlolonolo Nonyane's cross came with the Clever Boys defence back-pedalling and Lamola buried a header.
Damjanovic's foot-up challenge flattened forward Siphelele Magubane, and the defender was sent off. Magubane was stretchered off and replaced by Nduduzo Sibiya.
Within moments of the restart Arrows swept forward and Wayde Jooste's low cross found Mahachi unmarked to finish.
Three minutes later centreback Nkanyiso Mgwengwe clattered down Vincent Pule at the goal-line. Keene's penalty was into the top-right corner.
The numbers on the field were levelled when Phiri caught Pule at the touchline.
Wits’ equaliser came from a poor chest-back by Limbikani Mzava at keeper Nkosingiphile Gumede that was intercepted by Frosler, who fed Keene.
Wits twice almost profited from keeper Gumede’s spills, Frosler having the ball in the net, both times Tinyani blowing harshly.
In extra time Pienaar lifted a shot from the edge of the area inches over.
In the shootout, for Wits, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Gabadinho Mhango’s first two penalties were saved by Gumede. Then Pienaar, Elias Pelembe, Keene and Frosler all scored.
For Arrows, Nduduzo Sibiya, Knox Mutizwa and Mahachi scored. Nonyane missed, Nkanyiso Cele hit the upright and Musa Bilankulu missed.