Pirates Endure Frustrating Evening in Gqebera

Orlando Pirates were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Chippa United in their DStv Premiership encounter held at Nelson Mandela Stadium on Tuesday night.

It was a return to league action for the Buccaneers, who were fresh off two successful outings at home, and took to the road to face off against a side in search of its first victory of the season.

The contest’s first real opportunity came in the seventh minute, and was manufactured from range by Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo who let loose from a fair distance out, drawing a save from Chippa keeper Stanley Nwabali.

The visitors remained inside the opposition half, but were starved of clear chances at goal, with the home side shutting out their attempts to enter the attacking third.

Chippa got a shot on target just before the 20-minute mark, following a swift move up field, as Siphelele Luthuli fired straight at Sipho Chaine.

The breakthrough came at the other in the 24th minute through a move sparked by Relebohile Mofokeng, who darted across field from the right to link up with Monnapule Saleng on the left flank before delivering a superb low cross, which was turned into the net by Bandile Shandu, who bagged his second of the season.

The teenager could have gotten a goal of his own just three minutes later when he latched on to a loose ball just outside the penalty area, but only succeeded in pushing his effort wide.

The hosts stretched the Bucs defence through a quick break in the 34th minute, with captain Tapelo Xoki called upon to make a crucial sliding tackle to stop the threat posed by Augustine Mulenga.

Pirates had a late chance just before the break when Deon Hotto went one-on-one with Nwabali, who stepped out of his line to make a save.

There were fewer clear-cut opportunities in the second half as the visitors battled to regain control of the game, while the home side appeared to grow in confidence.

Mulenga had an effort from long range eight minutes after the restart, pushing his shot wide, moments before Patrick Maswanganyi conjured up a similar attempt at the other end with an identical outcome.

An extended period inside the Bucs half yielded the equaliser for the hosts, and it came through midfielder Goodman Mosele, whose curling shot from just inside the box evaded Chaine’s despairing dive as he slotted in on the far post to make it 1-1 with 26 minutes remaining.

This set up a fast-paced finish, with each side desperately trying to find a goal that would have decided the contest.

Bucs striker Zakhele Lepasa got close to grabbing his sixth of the season when he was played in by Saleng in the 77th minute, but his effort was blocked by Nwabali.

There was a chance at the other end for Mosele, who fired narrowly wide from long-range, while Mulenga was brilliantly stopped by Makhehleni Makhaula as he made a clean break on the right.

Lepasa almost had a final say in the last minute of regulation time when his volley from inside the penalty area swung just wide of the target.

Despite an extended injury time, neither side could find the decisive touch as it finished deadlocked at Nelson Mandela Bay.  

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Sibisi (Maela 66’), Shandu (Monyane 76’), Hotto, Monare, Ndlondlo (Makhaula 66’), Mofokeng (Otladisa 76’), Saleng, Maswanganyi (Makaringe 88’), Lepasa. 

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