3 May, 2023
Orlando Pirates held to a 1-1 draw by Royal AM in a dramatic DStv Premiership encounter at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
In their first midweek outing in 2023, the Buccaneers were on a mission to extend their winning streak to seven straight league games as they returned home after a successful visit to Mbombela.
Several changes were made to the Bucs team that did duty over the weekend, with teenage sensation Relebohile Ratomo making just First Team debut, while Bandile Shandu and Fortune Makaringe were among those making a return to the starting XI.
It was a patience game first up for the hosts, as the visitor’s blocked entry into their penalty area throughout the opening 10 minutes, which went by with no shots at goal.
The first clear-cut opportunity came in the 17th minute as Deon Hotto went clear on goal after being played in by Kermit Erasmus, but placed his shot off target.
Erasmus had a chance of his own seconds later as Ratomo turned over possession inside the penalty area before linking up with Makaringe, who located the striker, but the resultant shot was cleared off the line by Jabulani Ncobeni.
Pirates continued to attack from wide, with the teenager heavily involved along with Hotto, as the Royal AM stood firm amid the constant threat, desperately clearing any balls delivered into the box.
As the halftime whistle approached, Ratomo found himself in acres of space just outside the penalty area as he went for goal, sending the ball fizzing just over the crossbar.
This was followed up by a similar chance for Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, who was slightly further away from the mark with his attempt at goal.
Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, the Buccaneers continued to pepper the visitors goal with shots from range as Ndlondlo picked up from where he left off with another effort from distance, but without finding the target.
Shandu managed to get closer to goal in the 48th minute as he made a fantastic run into the box before being denied the opportunity to shoot at a crucial moment.
Ratomo continued to have a busy debut, and the youngster made a telling impact as his well-struck shot from just outside the box led to the breakthrough as it caught a deflection off Elias Pelembe, wrong-footing goalkeeper Mondli Mpoto on its way to the back of the net.
The visitors went about looking for the equaliser immediately and could have drawn level three minutes after falling behind, only for the heroics of Bucs shot stopper Sipho Chaine, who made an excellent stop to deny Sedwyn George.
This was before he repeated the feat against Mfundo Thikazi, who had broken away on the left as Royal AM enjoyed their best attacking period thus far.
Pirates had late chances of their own, with Sandile Mthethwa forcing a save off Mpoto with a header from close range before Monnapule Saleng’s shot from the right hand side of the field flew just across the face of goal.
Just as it appeared as if the hosts would collect another three points, Royal AM snatched an equaliser in injury time through Menzi Masuku, who guided the ball past Chaine from close range to make it 1-1.
That was enough for the visitors to steal a point as the Buccaneers failed to claim all points on offer for the first time since February.
Pirates XI: Chaine (GK), Sibisi, Mthethwa, Shandu (Monyane 72’), Mako, Makhaula (Monare 86’), Ndlondlo, Ratomo, Hotto (Saleng 60’), Makaringe (Motshwari 72’), Erasmus (Eva Nga 72’).
DStv Premiership Preview: Royal AM
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