Bucs Reserves Remain on Top Edging Usuthu

Orlando Pirates Reserves claimed a vital win to stay at the top of the DStv Diski Challenge standings when they defeated AmaZulu 3-2 at Rand Stadium on Saturday.

It’s a third consecutive victory for the young Buccaneers, who remain in pole position in a tight race for the title with just 10 games remaining in the season.

Coming up against the 15th-placed team, the gap between the two teams in the points table was not immediately apparent on the pitch as Usuthu started off as the more aggressive side.

The visitors spent the opening five minutes camped inside the Pirates half, where defenders Lebo Mohlala and Mbekezile Mbokazi made some vital stops to prevent an early goal.

The opener came at the other end against the run of play when the hosts made a foray into opposition territory, setting up an opportunity for Azola Matrose who blasted into the net from close range in the seventh-minute mark.

They remained in the lead for nine minutes, with AmaZulu equalising through Bayanda Thabede whose shot from a free kick caught a friendly deflection from the Bucs wall, wrongfooting goalkeeper Zoey Monyepao.

Pirates could have restored their lead moments later when striker Mpumelelo Ndaba was left unmarked inside the box, only to rush his shot and send it over the crossbar.

The missed chance nearly proved costly as the visitors grew in confidence midway through the first half, piling pressure on the hosts for a sustained period.

Their dominant spell however did not yield any goals, with the next strike coming inside their own half where Lulama Nxumalo produced a magic moment from outside the box, with his curling effort sneaking into the near post to leave the keeper rooted to the spot.

Having taken the lead with 10 minutes left until the break, the Buccaneers remained in control and had an opportunity to add to their advantage when Nkota fired wide from just inside opposition territory after spotting the keeper well off his line.

They took a slim lead into halftime and began the second period as the livelier of the two sides in an attempt to go two goals clear.

The goal came just after the hour mark through the boot of Mohau Nkota, whose excellent control on the edge of the box helped steer him clear of his marker before unleashing a brilliant volleyed finish into the bottom corner.

Pirates remained in control for a good 10 minutes before being pushed deep into their territory by AmaZulu, who were awarded a penalty after the referee spotted a foul inside the box.

Captain Yanga Mjoli was on hand to take the spot kick and made no mistake as he fired past Monyepao to set up a tense finish.

Usuthu’s hopes of leaving Rand Stadium with at least a point were however dealt a heavy blow in the game’s closing moments when they were reduced to 10 men after an illegal challenge on Nkota.

The Bucs attacker fired wide from the resultant free-kick before being presented with a similar opportunity moments later, failing to convert once more.

The was a late chance for replacement midfielder Calvin Chibwe, who miscued his shot after being played in by Nkota.

That proved to be the game’s last real opportunity as the Bucs Reserves held on for another crucial three points.

Pirates Reserves XI: Monyepao, Mbokazi, Sibiya, Mdunge, Mohlala, Selepe, Dansin, Matrose (Nzimande 65’) , Nkota, Nxumalo (Chibwe 79’), Ndaba (Maphumulo 65’).

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