28 January, 2023
Orlando Pirates Reserves bounced back from the previous weekend’s disappointment by claiming a 2-0 victory over Richards Bay in their DStv Diski Challenge encounter at Rand Stadium on Saturday.
Fresh off their first defeat since October, the Bucs Reserves had conceded some distance in their title chase and were up against a side on a high after claiming victory in their last outing.
It was the hosts who dominated the early exchanges getting shots at goal through Sonwabo Khumalo and Njabulo Mndebele in the opening 10 minutes, but neither could find the net.
Richards Bay threatened through a set piece midway through the first half, but what was their only real chance of the opening 45 minutes was thwarted by Bucs defender Samukele Kabini, who made a calm clearance from under the posts.
The Buccaneers got even closer to opening the scoring seven minutes from the break when Relebohile Ratomo’s low shot was kept out by the keeper two minutes before he attempted to curl one into the top corner, only to send his effort wide.
There were further opportunities for Mohau Nkota and Kgwadi Molepo moments before the break, but it remained 0-0 as the two sides headed into the tunnel.
Pirates continued to enjoy a healthy share of possession and territorial dominance in the second half with Nkota eventually drawing a desperate save from Richards Bay keeper Philasande Manqele in the 53rd minute.
The breakthrough came two minutes later when Mndebele made the most of the space afforded to him well outside the box by taking what looked like a speculative shot, which evaded Manqele’s outstretched arms to land in the back of the net.
The wait for the second goal lasted just nine minutes, and it came through a stroke of luck when Mpumelelo Ndaba pounced after some miscommunication at the back to tap the ball into an empty net moments after being introduced.
The lanky Bucs striker could have completed a double late in the game when he stepped up to the penalty spot after the referee had spotted a handball inside the box in the 83rd minute.
However, he could not convert his chance this time around, pushing his shot wide of the target with the keeper beaten.
There was another late chance for Jabulani Mokone, whose shot from just inside the box was saved by Manqele, and it proved to be the last big moment of the game as the Bucs Reserves returned to winning ways with a dominant display.
Pirates Reserves XI: Dladla, Mdunge (Ndaba 60’), Kabini, Ndlozi, Mohlala, Ngiba, Molepo, Khumalo (Moremi 66’), Nkota (Mokone 66’), Ratomo (Khoto 68’).
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