Joel Masutha (Gallo Images)
There was no separating Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila and TS Galaxy as they played to a 1-1 draw at Thohoyandou Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The visitors claimed the lead through Bevan Fransman on the stroke of half-time, but TTM rallied after the break as Mogakolodi Ngele headed home on 54 minutes to help his side avoid an opening-day defeat.
The match started in a scrappy fashion as the two sides struggled to gain any momentum thanks to a series of niggling fouls.
The first chance of the match arrived after five minutes, with Galaxy midfielder Tshegofatso Nyama seeing his long-range effort drift wide of the far post.
The visitors again went close just two minutes later when Spiwe Msimango found himself in front goal with just the keeper to beat, but Washington Arubi was alert to the danger and quickly raced off his line to smother the ball.
TTM managed to weather the storm, though, growing in confidence as the half wore on.
They briefly threatened to score on 18 minutes following Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo’s inswinging corner towards the danger area, but none of the TTM players in the box could get on the end of the cross as goalkeeper Wensten van der Linde snapped up the ball.
After a short water break, the two teams took a while to get going again, although Galaxy appeared to be more than willing to try their luck from range.
Van der Linde made a crucial stop to deny TTM after his defence was caught flat-footed, and the Rockets wasted no time in launching an attack of their own as they went on to earn a corner with the half-time break looming.
And they took full advantage of the late opportunity as Fransman got on the end of Lindokuhle Mbatha’s cross to head home at the far post.
TTM were quick to post a response after the half-time break, however, drawing level in the 54th minute when Ngele headed home from Meshack Maphangule’s inviting corner kick.
With the game now evenly poised, the shackles came off as both teams created good chances to snatch the lead.
Van der Linde made two superb saves either side of the hour mark, while at the opposite end of the pitch, Arubi did well to keep his side in the contest with some strong stops of his own.
TTM really should have scored on 83 minutes, but Thembisani Nevhulamba somehow failed to hit the target from close range as he blazed his shot wide under pressure from Fransman.
At the other end, TS Galaxy again went close as Van der Linde produced another top-drawer save to deny Ngele what looked to be a certain goal from a free-kick.
But with neither side able to find the all-important breakthrough, the two sides were forced to settle for a share of the spoils in their Premiership opener.