Baroka have got away with a valuable after holding Kaizer Chiefs to a 1-1 draw at FNB Stadium.
The Soweto giants went for a second match running without winning but extended their unbeaten streak to five matches.
A Thamsanqa Masiya goal early in the second half stunned Chiefs who then had to thank the visitors’ midfielder Goodman Mosele for beating his own goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke with 15 minutes to go to earn Amakhosi a point.
Chiefs have 19 points ahead of Saturday’s Soweto Derby against Orlando Pirates, while Bakgaka are back in the top-eight.
Playing Baroka for the first time since that September 2021 afternoon when they were denied the PSL title by the Limpopo side on the final day of last season, Chiefs were almost frustrated with a defeat this time but managed to scrape a point.
They started the match with Lebogang Manyama wasting a free-kick from the edge of the box after Siyabonga Ngezana had been fouled on the edge of the box by Manuel Kambala three minutes into the contest.
The hosts were struggling to cope with Baroka’s attacking speed but it took 14 minutes for Bakgaka’s first real chance at goal.
Amakhosi goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi spilt Nhlanhla Mgaga’s long-range shot but there was no Baroka player nearby to pounce as the Nigerian struggled to save the straying ball.
It was then Akpeyi’s opposite number Masuluke’s time to save his side when he stretched his leg to block a bottom corner-bound shot from Reeve Frosler out for a corner kick in the 23rd minute.
The action then swung back to the other end as Ananias Gebhardt beat an advancing Akpeyi but his headed effort off a corner kick went just over the bar.
Promises for goals from both sides continued and Masuluke was quick to intercept a Frosler cross as Nkosingiphile Ngcobo lurked to pounce 10 minutes before half-time but the teams went into the break goalless.
The deadlock was then broken eight minutes into the second half when Masiya sneaked the ball past Akpeyi off a flick from Evidence Makgopa.
Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt responded by introducing Leonardo Castro for Erick Mathoho and Ngezana was switched from right-back to central defence while Frosler moved to the wing-back position.
With 20 minutes to go, Castro’s entry almost paid off when he came at the end of a Manyama cross but Gebhardt’s challenge did not allow the Colombian to freely head it, resulting in the effort narrowly missing target.
Castro was proving to be troublesome to Baroka’s defenders and two minutes later, he arrived a little late to chest in a Ngcobo cross from the left side.
Chiefs’ pressure finally came to fruition with 14 minutes remaining when Mosele attempted to clear a Frosler low cross but instead turned the ball into his own net past Masuluke.
The goal appeared to energise Amakhosi who turned on the fire with attack after attack although Masuluke stood steely in goal as his teammates seemed tired after some hard-running for the better part of the contest.
Samir Nurkovic and Castro took turns to fire at Masuluke, while Anthony Akumu had a goal-bound powerful shot deflected and closely missed the target as Chiefs kept on probing but could not get the winning goal.
Hunt and his men now shift focus to face Orlando Pirates in Saturday’s Soweto Derby at Orlando Stadium.
By Tiyani wa ka Mabasa
additional reporting by Goal.com