Wits benefit from handball nobody saw against Highlands Park
Bidvest Wits benefited from an injury-time penalty awarded for an apparent handball, which was slotted by Thabang Monare to earn the Clever Boys a 1-1 Absa Premiership draw against Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Tuesday night.
Highlands were their characteristic compact bundle of energy and physicality at their Makhulong stronghold, and appeared quite comfortably headed for inflicting a second league defeat in succession on Wits.
They held the lead from Peter Shalulile’s 41st-minute penalty, and appeared headed for a first victory in five league and cup games.
But a controversial penalty was awarded by referee Victor Gomes, for an apparent hand-ball by Highlands substitute Bevan Fransman that no-one in the stands saw, and with the match not televised nor were there TV replays to clarify the matter.
Monare slotted the equaliser from the spot two minutes into injury time.
Gomes had handed out five yellow cards from the 81st minute on, and just two before that.
As can be the case with Highlands on their home turf, they were the team attempting to stamp their authority in the first half, though without a tremendous amount of success against for most of it a resolute Wits.
It was the Clever Boys’ Haashim Domingo who saw a drive from outside the area tipped over by Highlands goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
But the home team were rewarded for plugging away as, with the clock winding to the break, in the area Wits left-back Sifiso Hlanti attempted an overhead clearance that appeared to connect with the head of Shalulile, and referee Gomes pointed to the spot.
Shalulile picked himself up to slot crisply past goalkeeper Brandon Petersen into the top-left corner.
In a more open, lively second half, it said something that within 14 minutes Wits coach Gavin Hunt had replaced both his front two, Mxolisi Macuphu and Elias Pelembe coming on for Gift Motupa and Domingo.
Highlands continued to open the half-chances.
Shalulile managed to shake Buhle Mkhwanazi in the area and curled a shot round the top-right corner.
Speedy winger Mokete Mogaila, on moments earlier for Lindokuhle Mbatha, forced a diving save from Petersen with an angled shot across the box.
Then Wits should have drawn level.
Terence Dzbvukumanja’s cross found Macuphu free, as Hugh came and missed, and the striker volleyed onto the left upright with an open goal beckoning.
A minute into injury time Gomes blew for a penalty for an apparent hand-ball by Fransman.
Monare struck low to the left of Heugh.
Other Tuesday results:
Orlando Pirates 3 - 2 Polokwane City
Mamelodi Sundowns 1 - 0 AmaZulu
Highlands Park 1 - 1 Bidvest