25 November, 2023
Orlando Pirates were forced to share the spoils on their return to the DStv Premiership as they played to a 0-0 draw against Richards Bay at King Zwelithini Stadium.
Two weeks since they last took to the field, the Buccaneers were looking to bag a third straight victory as they visited the KwaZulu-Natal-based outfit in the first of two fixtures lined up for them in the remainder of the month.
They first had to endure a positive start from the hosts, who conjured up a few early chances with goalkeeper Melusi Buthelezi drawn into a couple of saves inside the first three minutes.
The minutes that followed were marked by unsuccessful attempts at manufacturing some go-forward ball by the Buccaneers, while the Natal Rich Boyz had no such issues making their way deep into opposition territory.
Clear chances however remained a rarity at both ends until 31 minutes in when Buthelezi was forced to dive low to his left to keep out a tricky long-range effort from Thulani Gumede.
Meanwhile, the visitors enjoyed more of the possession without turning their advantage into opportunities in the face of a steely defensive effort from the men from KZN.
The second period kicked off with the Buccaneers continuing to dictate terms while opportunities remained elusive. They did have a chance from a set piece right in front of goal, taken by Relebohile Mofokeng whose right-footed shot failed to clear a perfectly-positioned Richards Bay wall.
This was followed by off-target attempts from Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo and Fortune Makaringe after the hour mark but the best of Pirates’ efforts came from the boot of captain Tapelo Xoki, whose curling shot from a free kick was parried away by goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
They could have also edged ahead in the 72nd minute when Patrick Maswanganyi’s flick at goal was cleared off the line by Mbuthuma.
The hosts had a rare opportunity to stun the Soweto Giants in the final 10 minutes when an isolated Gumede resorted to a long-range effort and only succeeded in scooping his shot into the stands.
With the clock ticking, Pirates sought to grab a late winner and came close to bagging all points on offer when Kabelo Dlamini’s shot was palmed onto the crossbar by Mabokgwane inside injury time.
Despite all efforts in the end, neither side could find the breakthrough after 90 minutes as the final whistle sounded to confirm a share of the spoils.
Pirates XI: Buthelezi, Xoki, Ndah, Hotto, Timm, Ndlondlo (Kimvuidi 79’), Maswanganyi, Pule (Erasmus 79’), Makaringe, Mofokeng (Dlamini 66’), Makgopa (Saleng 66’).