8 October, 2022
It was not a happy return home for Orlando Pirates Reserves, who suffered a 1-0 defeat to AmaZulu at Rand Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
After contrasting fortunes on Match Day 4, three points were important to each of the two side’s cause, with the hosts looking to build on their away win against Swallows, while the team from KwaZulu-Natal sought to bounce back after defeat to Richards Bay Reserves in their last outing.
On his return to the starting line-up, Bucs midfielder Njabulo Mndebele provided the early spark as he troubled the defence on the left, initially failing to connect with a teammate as he freed himself to deliver a cross into the box, before going on his own in the eighth minute and sending his long-range effort just wide.
AmaZulu looked to catch the home side napping just before the 15-minute mark, and could have edged ahead if not for a timely intervention from Kgwadi Molepo, who put his body on the line blocking what looked like a goalbound shot.
The Buccaneers responded by pushing forward through some silky interplay midway through the first half, and almost reaping reward as Sonwabo Khumalo laid a pass for Mndebele, whose shot rattled the upright.
Clear-cut chances were however few and far inbetween in the latter part of the opening period, bar an opportunity that fell to Mehluleli Maphumulo, whose header was cleared off the line before captain Ndumiso Ngiba misdirected his shot from the rebound.
It was the young Usuthu who emerged from the tunnel with a bit more purpose, ensuring a busy second half for Bucs keeper Siyabonga Dladla, who had to make a couple of saves in the opening 15 minutes of the second stanza.
The Bucs Reserves were however not quiet down the other end, with Jabulani Mokone causing problems on the attacking third where he forced a fine save off the keeper from just inside the box, moments before beating two defenders ahead of finding Mndebele, who was also denied.
The breakthrough came in the 67th minute with AmaZulu breaking into the Pirates half of the field before a calm finish made it 1-0.
The hosts almost responded immediately when Mokone’s chip into the box evaded an outstretched Mpumelelo Ndaba who slid desperately in front of an open net.
They continued to create opportunities, but lacked the finishing touch, the best of the lot came in the 84th minute and fell to Mokone, whose first-time shot was kept out by the keeper on the near post.
AmaZulu’s solitary strike proved to be the difference in the end, with Pirates unable to salvage a point on the day.
Pirates Reserves XI: Dladla, Spandiel, Ngiba, Ndlozi, Kabini, Molepo (Matjeni 78’), Khumalo (Moremi 72’),Mokone, Maphumulo (Ndaba 72’), Mohlala (Mdunge 62’).