4 February, 2023
A brace from Mpumelelo Ndaba gave Orlando Pirates Reserves a 2-0 win in their DStv Diski Challenge clash against Maritzburg United at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Saturday.
The victory moved the young Buccaneers level on points with the table-topping Cape Town City, who will be in action on Sunday.
In search of a second consecutive victory, the Soweto Giants were immediately in control of proceedings, finding early shots at goal through Relebohile Ratomo and Gomolemo Khoto.
The decisive moment however came in the sixth minute after Maritzburg made their first foray into Bucs territory, where defence turned into a swift counter finished off by Ndaba who turned the ball into the net after receiving a fine cross from Khoto to complete an impressive team goal.
The striker could have doubled his tally later on, but was pushed into a tight angle before hitting the side-netting with his shot at goal.
Momentum shifted in the middle part of the first half, with the home side dominating proceedings.
They had opportunities to draw level through ex-Bucs forward Andiswa Sithole and Asanda Buthelezi, with neither managing to trouble Buccaneers keeper Siyabonga Dladla.
The best chance for the Team of Choice came through a free kick in the 34th minute, where their skipper Phiwayinkosi Zuma rattled the upright from just outside the penalty area.
Ratomo could have sent the Buccaneers into halftime two-goals clear when he ghosted past three defenders before shooting straight at Maritzburg goalkeeper, Nhlakanipho Ngcobo.
The opening stages of the second half were devoid of clear-cut chances at either end, but this was offset on the hour mark by Ndaba who pulled clear of the defence before being denied by Ngcobo.
The search for the second goal continued as Mndebele went narrowly off target from a set piece in the 67th minute.
Ndaba had a couple more opportunities, which he spurned before making amends in the 75th minute with a well-timed run to turn a long ball from Lebo Mohlala into the back of the net, creating much-needed daylight between the two sides.
The hosts could have set up a tense closing period had Buthelezi managed to get more behind his 82nd minute shot from point-blank range, which was comfortably dealt with by Dladla.
The Bucs defence withstood a late surge from the home side to come away with a crucial three points to remain in the title chase.
Pirates Reserves XI: Dladla, Ndlozi, Kabini, Mohlala, Mokone, Mndebele (Bule 80’), Moremi, Molepo, Khoto (Mdunge 61’), Ndaba (Nkota 77’), Ratomo (Mabuza 80’).
DDC Preview: Maritzburg United
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