The KZN side was denied their first win of the campaign in the dying minutes of the game at Harry Gwala Stadium
Maritzburg United let three points slip as they allowed Highlands Park to steal a point in a league match played on Friday night.
Kwanda Mngonyama had fired the Team of Choice into the lead in the 51st minute but a Peter Shalulile rocket from outside the box denied the home side what would have been their first win of the season.
Both teams came into this encounter wounded after suffering defeats in the opening weekend of the 2019/20 PSL season.
Highlands Park were expected to dictate terms from the first whistle given that they started preparing for this campaign nine weeks ago.
However, the Team of Choice came up with different tactics and used the home ground advantage to suffocate Highlands Park.
Eric Tinkler’s men also had the support from their home fans, who no doubt made things difficult for the visitors to settle.
Tinkler handed Daniel Morgan his debut at the heart of Maritzburg United’s defence, and the defender played like a seasoned campaigner giving the likes of Tendai Ndoro and Rodney Ramagalela no space to breath.
Maritzburg United was the better of the two teams and they were unfortunate not to have found the back of the net in the first half.
The first real chance of the match fell for Thabiso Kutumela seven minutes into the encounter, but the striker fired straight at Highlands Park goalkeeper Marlon Heugh.
Rushine De Reuck nearly broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time from a free-kick situation, but his attempt was deflected wide by Sifiso Mbhele.
Owen Da Gama looked very worried on the bench going into half-time as his team struggled to stamp their authority.
The visitors would get punished six minutes into the second half as Mngonyama connected with Miguel Timm’s cross before netting past Heugh to make it 1-0.
At this stage, Da Gama knew that it was going to take something special for his team to get anything in Maritzburg.
A change of tactics coupled with speed upfront saw Maritzburg United chase the game, but their captain on the day, Richard Ofori did well to keep his side in the game.
The Ghanaian goalkeeper pulled off a brilliant save to deny Highlands Park the equaliser as Shalulile’s shot appeared to be heading for goal.
Maritzburg United then took control of the game and Highlands Park was made to chase the ball.
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The home side’s dominance took a toll on the visitors and it wasn’t surprising to see Mbhele get a red card for a second bookable offense in the dying minutes of the game.
Mbhele handled the ball in an attempt to stop Mngonyama, who had a fantastic game and was eventually named man of the match.
However, the red card didn’t do much damage as Shalulile rescued a point for the visitors with a rocket from the edge of the box in the dying minutes of the game.