15 October, 2022
A dream start was not enough to hand Orlando Pirates Reserves victory in their DStv Diski Challenge fixture against Royal AM, which ended in a 2-2 stalemate at Mpumalanga Stadium on Saturday morning.
Coming into the clash in midtable following a home defeat to AmaZulu, the Bucs Reserves were in search of their third win this season in what was their sixth outing.
They went about looking for an early lead with Lebo Mohlala turning on the style on the left wing in the fourth minute before combining with Mehluleli Maphumulo, who skied his effort.
That was only a sign of things to come, as just a minute later, they were on the scoreboard through Sonwabo Khumalo, who met a cross from Samukele Kabini and made no mistake in slotting home for the opener.
One goal quickly became two, and this time around it was through an incredible solo effort from Maphumulo who took the ball from the middle of the park, making a fine run down the middle before finishing past Royal AM keeper Lungisani Mncwabe to give Pirates a two-goal lead seven minutes in.
Despite managing to place distance between themselves and the hosts on the scorecard, the Buccaneers kept the pressure on the home side with an aggressive pressing game.
It was only midway through the first half that the hosts appeared to grow into the game, as they attacked through the wings, but without threatening the Pirates goal.
It could have been 3-0 on the half-hour mark, following a counter from the Soweto Giants, who attacked through Jabulani Mokone and Maphumulo, whose effort was cleared off the line by Mncwabe.
Another opportunity fell to the Buccaneers just two minutes away from the halftime whistle when Mohlala chanced his arm from range, and his effort was kept out by substitute keeper Holwethu Manci.
Royal AM set about turning the tide early in the second half, with Bucs keeper Siyabonga Dladla forced into a save from a long-range effort in the 47th minute.
They continued to pile on the pressure on the visitors, and were rewarded just five minutes after the restart when Pirates defender Siyabonga Ndlozi was penalised inside the box, leading to a spot kick which was converted to make it 2-1.
Coach Joseph Makhanya rang the changes in response, and his decision almost paid off immediately as one of the newly-introduced players, Siphamandla Mdunge got behind the defence out on the wing before delivering a cross into the box, where the home side were able to clear.
The young Thwihli Thwahla regained control in the latter part of the contest, pegging the Buccaneers back into their own half, with Dladla forced into a succession of saves, while Kabini and Ndlozi worked overtime in cutting supply from the wings into the box.
Their persistence almost paid off in the 79th minute, as Dladla was eventually beaten, but there was no change to the scoreline, thanks to a timely intervention from Cassius Spandiel, who swooped in to block a seemingly goal-bound effort.
The equaliser would come just moments away from the final whistle, setting up a tense finish to the contest.
It finished with a share of the spoils, as the Bucs Reserves were unable to cling on to their early lead amid a spirited second half from the home side.
Pirates Reserves XI: Dladla, Spandiel, Ngiba, Ndlozi, Kabini, Molepo, Mndebele (Bule 60’), Khumalo, Mokone (Mdunge 65’), Maphumulo (Ndaba 65’), Mohlala (Moremi 60’).
DStv Diski Challenge Preview: Royal AM
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