24 August, 2022
Orlando Pirates clung on to claim maximum points at home as they defeated Marumo Gallants 1-0 in their DStv Premiership fixture on Wednesday night.
Returning to Orlando Stadium after spending the past week on the road, the Buccaneers had the opportunity to take up position in the summit of the league standings as they came into the game just two points away from top spot.
They could not have wished for a better start as they took the lead just three minutes in, courtesy of Paseka Mako, who was perfectly-positioned to slot home from right in front goal after Zakhele Lepasa’s cross from the right flank ricocheted off the far post into the path of the Bucs wing-back.
The early lead allowed the hosts to play a control game, and they could have doubled their advantage in the 25th minute through captain Innocent Maela, who remained deep inside the Gallants’ half following a set-piece, where he had the opportunity to volley towards goal, forcing a save from the diving Washington Arubi.
The visitors also had a couple of chances of their own, all from Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo, whose attempt at goal from a free kick at the half-hour mark was blocked by the Pirates wall. This was before he tried to catch the defence unawares with a long-range shot that was comfortably gobbled up by Richard Ofori ten minutes later.
It could have been 2-0 heading into the break as the Buccaneers countered from the right hand side of the field, with Kabelo Dlamini connecting with Lepasa, who did well to beat Arubi, only for the ball to roll wide of the target.
The next opportunity to double the lead came just after the second half kick-off when Pirates were awarded a free-kick after a foul on Mako. The set-piece was taken by Pule, and it could have yielded a second goal as he struck the ball well with his left foot, causing it to dip just in front of Arubi, who only just managed to parry it away from the goal line.
Gallants kept trying at the other end, with Ndlondlo finding a way to beat the Bucs defence during a corner kick, but his glancing header in the 59th minute rolled tamely across goal.
There were chances for Lepasa and Pule just after the hour mark, with the visitors’ keeping their shape at the back. The second half was however marred by lengthy stoppages, with clear-cut opportunities drying up as the clock wound down.
It was enough for the Buccaneers to clinch all three points, taking their tally for the season to 11 as they climbed up to the top of the standings.
Pirates XI: Ofori, Xoki (Ndah74’), Sibisi (Hotto 74’), Maela, Mosele, Timm, Shandu, Mako, Dlamini (Makaringe 46’), Pule (Motshwari 84’), Lepasa (Eva Nga 67’).