A late penalty against PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns earned a new-look Maritzburg United side a 1-1 draw at the Loftus Stadium on Friday night.

The Team of Choice made the worst possible start to the game when they conceded a goal after just one minute, Mame Niang setting up Katlego Mashego to score at the back post from a tight angle.

But United slowly began to settle back into the game after the early setback, doing well in the midfield exchanges, while debutant Deolin Mekoa tested Downs keeper Wayne Sandilands with a well struck 30-yard effort after five minutes.

Ten minutes later there was a goalmouth scramble in the Maritzburg box, but the visitors survived.

Just before the break, Maritzburg keeper Shu-aib Walters did well to keep out a swerving and extremely powerful 35-yard shot from Hlompho Kekana as the KZN side for the most part matched their more illustrious opponents.

The second half saw United growing in confidence, despite the limited top flight experience of several of their players.

Chances were few and far between at both ends until the 89th minute, when Sandilands was forced into making a fine reflex save to keep out Mokate's effort.

The ball rebounded up in the air, and when Niang caught Mondli Cele in the face with his elbow, referee Victor Gomes pointed to the spot, leaving Mohammed Awal to hold his nerve and slot home an injury time penalty.

Sundowns Starting XI: Sandilands, Langerman, Schut, Mphahlele, Nthethe, Tau, Modise, Kekana, Pelembe, Niang, Mashego

Maritzburg Starting XI: Walters, De Jongh, Booysen, Awal, Mkhize, Matuka, Hartog, Van Wyk, Mokate, Lentjies, Mekoa

8 August 2014