18 February, 2023
Orlando Pirates Reserves clinched a fourth straight win with a 2-0 victory over Sekhukhune United in their DStv Diski Challenge encounter at Wits Football Stadium on Saturday.
Looking to extend their winning run, the Buccaneers also had the opportunity to summit the table after sneaking up to within a point of the table-topping Cape Town City.
It took a while for both teams to acclimatise to the conditions, with the early exchanges dominated by misplaced passes caused by the slippery surface.
This almost proved costly to the home side in the 16th minute, when goalkeeper Siyabonga Dladla had to make a desperate save after an error at the back brought Babina Noko the game’s first real chance at goal.
Pirates’ first shot on target came via a set piece right in front of goal, taken by Relebohile Ratomo who found the target, but his curling effort was kept out by the keeper.
Dladla made another crucial stop on the half-hour mark, keeping out what looked like a certain goal, and it proved to be a valuable stop as the Bucs Reserves were on the board just moments later.
The man to provide the breakthrough was Ratomo, who outfoxed the defence on the left before cutting inside and curling the ball into the top corner to make it 1-0.
The Buccaneers remained in the ascendancy as they searched for a second goal before the break, but went into the break still clutching on to a slim lead after Sekhukhune kept things tight at the back.
The hosts remained dominant at the start of the second half, and almost went two ahead in the 52nd minute courtesy of Ratomo, who did everything right in freeing himself for a shot, which crashed into the side-netting.
Striker Mpumelelo Ndaba managed to draw a save from the keeper four minutes later, and his effort was followed by a stinging shot from deep coming off the boot of hardman Siyabonga Ndlozi, who sent his effort just wide of the target.
With eight minutes on the clock, Ratomo popped up inside the box and grabbed his brace as he placed the ball out of the keeper’s reach to provide a much-needed second goal.
Just as it seemed as if 2-0 would be the final score, midfielder Sonwabo Khumalo capped a fine performance with a goal of his own as surged into the penalty area before finishing to make it 3-0 deep in injury time.
That proved to be the final action of the game, with the Bucs Reserves climbing to the top of the standings with their closest title rivals set to play on Sunday.
Pirates Reserves XI: Dladla, Kabini, Ngiba, Ndlozi, Mokone, Khumalo, Molepo, Moremi (Mndebele 58’), Khoto (Mdunge 68’), Ndaba (Nkota 58’), Ratomo.