Bucs Reserves Seal Remarkable Comeback Victory

Orlando Pirates Reserves gave an extraordinary second-half performance to walk off 5-3 winners in their DStv Diski Challenge fixture at Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday.

After trailing by two goals at the break, Joseph Makhanya’s young troops showed incredible character to come away with all three points, consolidating their spot at the top of the league standings.

They had struggled to find their rhythm for a big chunk of the opening half as the home side enjoyed territorial dominance throughout the period. This was after squandering early chances at goal, with Cemran Dansin, Mohau Nkota, and Mehluleli Maphumulo all unable to convert inside the first 20 minutes.

Royal AM did not hesitate to make them rue the missed opportunities, as they managed to find a way past the Bucs defence in the 26th minute to take the lead.

The hosts remained in the ascendancy despite being a goal to the good, as they continued to pile pressure on the Soweto Giants.

Nkota had a chance to equalise in the 34th minute, pulling his shot wide from close range before linking up with Gosiame Ngobeni, who was unable to turn the ball into the net from just in front.

Thwihli Thwahla remained the side with the better chances in the first half, and made the most of a last-gasp opportunity just before the break to head into the tunnel with a two-goal lead.

There was more determination to Pirates approach after the restart with replacement forward Lulama Nxumalo providing their first shot on target shortly after coming as he forced a save from goalkeeper Aphile Ngobese.

They only had to wait briefly for their breakthrough, as Nkota calmly fired past the shot-stopper in the 56th minute to make it 2-1.

It was all level just eight minutes later when another halftime substitute made his presence count, with Mpumelelo Ndaba adding his name to the scoresheet to set up an interesting finish.

The Bucs Reserves remained in the ascendancy, causing problems on the right flank where Siphamandla Mdunge regularly pushed forward to link up with Nkota.

The next goal was however against the run of play as an error from the Pirates defence allowed the home side to restore their lead with just four minutes of regulation time left on the clock.

The visitors made another change that proved inspirational, bringing on 16-year-old Aphelele Nzimande in place of Lebo Mohlala.

It took the teenager mere seconds to make an impact as he slotted home in the 89th minute to make it 3-3.

Seven more minutes were added on to the clock, and provided extra drama when Nkota handed the Buccaneers the lead for the first time in the match.

The result was put beyond doubt late in injury time when Ndaba completed a brace of his own with a long-range effort, sealing a remarkable comeback.

That was enough to clinch another three points for the Buccaneers, who remain unbeaten against the KwaZulu-Natal outfit.

Pirates Reserves XI: Monyepao, Magugwana, Sibiya, Mdunge, Mohlala (Nzimande 88’), Molepo, Dansin, Chibwe (Nxumalo 46’), Nkota, Ngobeni (Selepe 46’), Maphumulo (Ndaba 46’).

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