Free State Stars have kept their fitness levels up during the international break as they look towards climbing the Premiership table next month.
Manager Serame Letsoaka has put his squad through the paces this past two weeks and they featured in another friendly on Saturday, this time with Kaizer Chiefs.
The fixture was set in preparation for the upcoming double header with Amakhosi’s Soweto rivals, Orlando Pirates, who Letsoaka’s side will face on the 1st and 8th of April respectively.
Stars gave a good account of themselves in the heated fixture at the Dobsonville Stadium, but ultimately fell to a late goal, with Chiefs edging it with a 2-1 scoreline.
Ea Lla Koto took an early initiative in the encounter with midfielder Goodman Dlamani and in-form forward Mohammed Annas both testing the home goalkeeper Luthando Sixhaso – in the opening ten minutes.
However, South Africa international forward Bernard Parker gave Steve Komphela’s side the lead shortly after. Stars pushed men forward in an attempt to draw level, but failed to capitalise on their momentum.
In the second-half, more sense of urgency was seen from the visitors and eccentric winger Sinethemba Jantjie, nearly silenced the hosts with a incredible solo-run. However, the end product was lacking, as he failed to hit the target.
Stars did not dwell on the miss though, as second-half substitute Nhlakanipho Ntuli fired home a thunderbolt to equalise, leaving the Chiefs keeper rooted to the spot.
The Glamour Boys thought they found the lead for the second-time of the afternoon, when Hendrick ‘Pule’ Eksteen found the back of the net – but the strike was correctly ruled offside.
With seven minutes remaining of the end to end encounter, Komphela’s side rallied forward and new Venezuelan forward Gustavo Paez saw his close range effort parried by Tsatsi Theletsane. Only for Siphelele Mthembu to side-foot the winner of the fixture, after the rebound fell into the striker’s path.