Bucs Grind Out Vital Win

Orlando Pirates earned a hard-fought 1-0 victory in their DStv Premiership encounter with SuperSport United at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

The result narrowed the gap between the two sides, who arrived in the fixture placed in second and third in the standings, with the visitors five points ahead of the home side.

The action in the middle was not immediately indicative of a battle between two teams fighting for a spot in Africa’s premier club competition, as neither side managed to create clear chances early on.

Paseka Mako foiled one of United’s early attacks when he put his body on the line, sliding in to deflect Thapelo Maseko’s cross out for a corner.

This set the theme for much of the first half, with Kermit Erasmus also denied at the other end by Thulani Hlatshwayo in the 20th minute.

One of the glovemen was eventually called upon 28 minutes in and it was United’s Ricardo Goss, who kept out a shot from Erasmus.

The shot-stopper was again in the thick of the action as he kept out a dangerous-looking cross from Thembinkosi Lorch, parrying it into the path of Thabang Monare, whose shot from range floated wide.

Opportunities dried up in the latter part of the first half, before the Buccaneers emerged from the tunnel looking more assured, creating chances early in the second period.

The best of these fell to Monnapule Saleng, who pushed his shot wide after getting on the end of a clever chip from Erasmus in the 51st minute. 

Skipper Innocent Maela was called upon after the hour mark, making a fantastic block to deny Thapelo Maseko as the visitors attacked from the right.

This was followed by another crucial stop, this time from goalkeeper Sipho Chaine, who thwarted a threatening counter attack from United.

Pirates were afforded an opportunity to edge forward with 12 minutes remaining on the clock as Saleng was brought down inside the box, prompting the referee to point to the spot.

Defender Tapelo Xoki was the man entrusted with the responsibility, and made no mistake as he sent Goss the wrong way to grab his first Pirates goal.

The Tshwane outfit tried to hit back late in the contest, and their best opportunity came via a set piece, which was met by a firm Bucs wall.

Late substitutes Evidence Makgopa and Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo each had a shot at goal, but the hosts had done enough to claim a crucial three points with just a handful of games left to play this season.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki (Mthethwa 86’), Sibisi, Maela, Monare (Ndlondlo 86’), Timm, Saleng, Mako, Dlamini (Makaringe 67’), Lorch (Marou 76’), Erasmus (Makgopa 67’).


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