IN A dreary 0-0 draw after 120 minutes, Free State Stars progressed to the semifinals of the Telkom Knockout after beating Bidvest Wits in a penalty shoot-out at Bidvest Stadium on Saturday night.
Playing at home Wits certainly had the more confidence as their zealous fans cheered them on from the stands.
The first half, though, was a cagy affair and chances on goal were few and far between.
Nonetheless, despite neither side being able to create a real opening on goal, Wits did have the better of the play and should have scored a couple of goals before the half time whistle.
Wits first chance on goal came as early as the fourth minute when Mzikayise Mashaba drove down the flank and whipped in a teasing cross across the face of goal, but no Wits player was there to tap the ball home.
Mashaba was the main threat going forward for the home side, as he looked to prove a point against his former club, but for all his good work down the left flank his teammates failed to make the most of the opportunities he was creating.
Free State’s first real chance on goal came in the 36th minute as Dvoe Wome created some space down the wing, but his cross found no one in the box as the ball harmlessly went out for a throw-in.
Still, despite Wits having the better of the half, the best chance in the first 45 fell to Free State seconds before the half time whistle.
Some good work down the right flank saw Esterhuizen supply a good cross for Moeketsi Mvula, but he headed over from close range.
Stars started the second 45 where they left the first as Katlego Mashego rattled the woodwork five minutes after the restart.
Mashego showed great individual skill as he drove down the middle of the field, beating a couple of defenders before firing a long range shot that beat the keeper, but not the crossbar as it bounced of the woodwork and away from danger.
In the 73rd minute Calvine Kadi thought he had broken the deadlock when he found the back of the net, but his goal was disallowed as he was ruled off-sides.
Three minutes from time, Stars looked the better side and again they looked like they had grabbed the winner, but Wome’s effort bounced off the crossbar for the second time.
As no team could find the winner in the 90 minutes the game moved into extra time.
The same kind of temperament persisted throughout extra time as neither side could fine the goal that would separate the sides as the match into a penalty shoot-out.
In the end Wits were made to pay for their missed opportunities as Free State won 4-3 on penalties.
Bidvest Wits (0) 0
Free State (0) 0
*Free State win 4-3 on penalties
Wits: Harrison, Gumede, Pattison (Kadi 46’), Vilakazi, Sweswe, Chapman (Fanteni 88’), Seedat (Faty 46’), Mashaba, Nato, Mayinga, Molekwane
Free State: Mweene, Esterhuizen (Sambu 72’), Ouro-Akoriko, Thebakang, Mashego, Kerspuy, Cardoso, Nomandela, Masehe, Wome (Mkhatshwa 97’), Mvula-Backpage TXT