Pirates See Off Maritzburg

Orlando Pirates claimed a 2-1 victory in a hard-fought DStv Premiership encounter against Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium on Friday.

After advancing in cup competition, the Buccaneers were back in league football, facing a side in a desperate bid to escape the threat of relegation. 

The hosts dominated early and could have been on the scoreboard just seconds after kick-off when a long ball from deep located Bandile Shandu, who found the side netting with a first-time shot from just inside the box.

However, chances were few and far between for much of the opening half, with Pirates denied entry into the attacking third despite dominating possession.

They sought to create their own luck by taking shots from a fair distance out, with Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo twice shooting over the crossbar midway through the opening half.

What had so far been a subdued affair was brought to life on the stroke of halftime when Monnapule Saleng collected the ball on the right flank before cutting inside and shooting from just outside the box and sneaking the ball into the back of the net for the opener.

The Buccaneers continued to control matters in the second half, but much like the first period, struggled to punch holes in the defence.

Meanwhile the visitors showed a little more aggression in their search for the equaliser, led by ex-Bucs defender Wayde Jooste, whose runs from the left caused problems.

He could have claimed an assist in the 57th minute when his cross into the box was flicked towards goal by Rowan Human, but the midfielder was unable to direct the ball into the net.

At the other end, Ndlondlo did not let up with his attempts from range, and came closest to finding the target 20 minutes from full time when his well-struck shot from outside the box crashed into the upright.

The hosts were able to double their lead just two minutes later when Saleng whipped in an inviting ball into the box, and Terrence Dzvukamanja obliged with a bullet header into the back of the net after making a well-timed run in the middle.

With the game slipping away from them Maritzburg launched a spirited fight back, but the Bucs defence was able to hold firm.

The Team of Choice were able to make a breach late into the encounter as Tumelp Njoti fired in a stinging shot past Sipho Chaine to make it 2-1.

This set up a nervy finish, but the Buccaneers managed the remainder of the encounter well enough to hang on for a crucial victory, which took them to third place in the standings ahead of the weekend’s action.

Pirates XI: Chaine, Xoki, Maela, Mako, Shandu (Monyane 46’), Hotto, Ndlondlo (Makhaula 75’), Timm, Saleng (Marou 81’), Lorch (Dlamini 61’), Dzvukamanja (Erasmus 75’).

 

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