Bucs Beat Royal AM to Get Off the Mark

An impressive first-half blitz helped Orlando Pirates to a 4-2 win over Royal AM in their DStv Premiership clash at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night.

It was a matter of shrugging off a far less-than-ideal weekend result for the hosts, who headed into  their first home fixture yet to open their account under the points column following defeat in their season opener.

Things began tentatively with the Soweto Giants enjoying considerably more possession and territorial dominance over their opponents, despite not managing to get a shot away in the opening 10 minutes.

The breakthrough was not too far off however, arriving in the 15th minute after a foul on Patrick Maswanganyi, who was brought down inside the box after linking up with Relebohile Mofokeng, prompting the referee to point at the penalty spot.

Zakhele Lepasa was the man who stepped up, and the Bucs striker made no mistake in sending Royal AM keeper Mondli Mpoto the wrong way to get his side’s first goal of the season.

It could have been 2-0 just five minutes later, after Thabiso Monyane beat the offside trap to find himself in acres of space on the right before sending his shot just narrowly wide.

Pirates managed to go two-up just before the half-hour mark, courtesy of Monnapule Saleng, who was the recipient of a fine pass from Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, breaching Mpoto’s defence with an excellent curling shot into the back of the net.

They did not take their foot off the pedal, with their third goal coming just five minutes after the second as Lepasa completed his brace after getting on the end of a brilliant long ball from goalkeeper Sipho Chaine prior to poking it past the Royal AM shot stopper.

Monyane was afforded another opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet in the 38th minute, with Mpoto denying him this time around, and the game’s next goal would go the way of the KwaZulu-Natal side on the stroke of halftime through the boot of Hopewell Cele, who fired past Chaine to pull one back for the visitors.

The second half began with a golden chance for the Buccaneers to restore their three-goal lead when Saleng lobbed an excellent chip in the direction of an unmarked Relebohile Mofokeng, but the youngster could not find the target with his effort at goal.

They had to do some defending of their own as the visitors sought to reduce the deficit, with Chaine called upon to stop a fiercely-struck shot from Mfundo Thikazi in the 69th minute.

The visitors’ ascendancy was interrupted by a surge upfield from the home side, which ended with a shot from Saleng, which was deflected out of play after he linked up with Paseka Mako.

Thwihli Thwahla did manage to set up a nervy finish, and it was through a bit of fortune on their part when miscommunication at the back left the Bucs defence exposed, allowing Mxolisi Macuphu in for his side’s second goal in the final minute of regulation time.

However, second-half sub Bandile Shandu would restore Pirates’ two-goal lead with just seconds remaining on the clock when he ran onto a perfectly-weighted pass from Ndlondlo to turn the ball into the net and make it 4-2.

There was not much time to further affect the scoreboard, with the Soweto Giants seeing out the rest of injury time to move up from the bottom half of the table to third place ahead of a short break in league action.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Sibisi, Monyane (Shandu 61’), Mako, Monare (Makhaula 61’), Ndlondlo, Saleng, Mofokeng (Hotto 78’), Maswanganyi (Makaringe 78’), Lepasa (Makgopa 86’)

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