Late Goal Sinks Bucs Reserves

A late goal condemned Orlando Pirates Reserves to a 1-0 defeat away to a ten-man Mamelodi Sundowns in a dramatic DStv Diski Challenge fixture played at Giant Stadium on Sunday.

It was only the fourth defeat of the season for the Bucs Reserves, who began the weekend at the summit of the table prior to losing their spot to Stellenbosch.

Needing only a single point to return to the top, they first had to withstand a determined effort from the hosts who had nearly all the possession inside the game’s opening five minutes without impacting the attacking third.

The only shot at goal during this period occurred inside Sundowns’ end of the field, where Pirates skipper Kgwadi Molepo fired wide from a set-piece ball delivered by Mohau Nkota. The pacey Bucs attacker followed this up with an attempt of his own as he managed draw a save from Fanie Raludzingana.

The visitors remained the livelier side throughout the opening half which featured a risk-free approach at both ends, with clear chances at goal kept at a minimum. Their best chance came from Nkota in the 24th minute as he broke away on the right flank before pushing his shot across goal. 

Sundowns, meanwhile, could have taken the lead at the stroke of halftime when they moved the ball swiftly into the Pirates penalty area before the defence scrambled back to ensure that the two sides headed into the tunnel still goalless.

The Soshanguve crowd was treated to a more eventful second half which began in an inauspicious manner just before coming to life in the 56th minute, when a reckless challenge on Molepo prompted referee Thando Ndzandzeka to give midfielder Mziwekhaya Nkonxeni his marching orders.

Having been handed an advantage in numbers, the Bucs Reserves immediately sought to make the most of it as Cemran Dansin fired narrowly wide from the edge of the box after sustained pressure on the hosts.

The Tshwane Giants had bright moments of their own despite being a man short, but most of the chances fell at the other end of the field where the Buccaneers sought to break the deadlock.

Second-half substitute Lulama Nxumalo had his shot from close range deflected out for a corner which resulted in a close call for defender Mbekezile Mbokazi, whose header was palmed away by Raludzingana. Nkota was next to draw a save from the Sundowns shot stopper, who had some respite as Siphamandla Mdunge and Lonwabo Magugwana both fired off target with subsequent efforts.

While pushing men forward in search of a late winner, the visitors were left thin at the back as the home side nearly edged ahead through Keabetswe Ramotsei, who was denied by the upright in his attempt to finish off a swift counter attack.

His teammate Onele Rulwana had no such issues as Sundowns made another quick break late in injury time, firing past Monyepao to make it 1-0.

Not much time was left on the clock for Pirates to salvage a point, as the men in yellow emerged unlikely winners in the dramatic encounter.

Pirates Reserves XI: Monyepao, Magugwana, Mbokazi, Mdunge, Mohlala, Molepo, Selepe (Chibwe 64’), Dansin, Nkota, Ngobeni (Ndaba 64’), Matrose (Mazibuko 79’). 

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