Bucs win to go level with Chiefs
Orlando Pirates moved level on points with Absa Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs on Friday night after a 2-1 win away to 10-man Maritzburg United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.
Goals from Oupa Manyisa and Andile Jali had put the Buccaneers well in charge, while the Team of Choice pulled one back through Cuthbert Malajila to set up a tense end to the game despite playing with a man less for most of the second half after a straight red card for Ruben Cloete.
Maritzburg started the game brightly and looked determined to make life difficult for their illustrious opponents. The visitors were a little sluggish out the blocks but soon got up to speed and engaged in what was a feisty battle.
Pirates broke the deadlock on 32 minutes. Daine Klate wriggled free of the attentions of Rheece Evans down the right flank before picking out an unmarked Oupa Manyisa at the far post. The midfielder controlled the cross before steering a low shot past goalkeeper Shu-aib Walters.
Klate then had a good chance to double the visitors’ advantage a few minutes later when Thabo Matlaba provided a peach of a diagonal ball into the penalty area, but the Buccaneers winger made a mess of his attempted volley and failed to trouble the ‘keeper.
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Maritzburg made a change at the start of the second half, with Evans making way for Thabang Matuka, and they nearly forced an equaliser in the 48th minute when goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa dropped a cross, but Terrence Mandaza was unable to get his attempted shot on target.
Yet on 50 minutes former Pirates defender Ruben Cloete let the Team of Choice down when he dived into a studs-up challenge on Thandani Ntshumayelo. Referee Daniel Bennett had no choice but to show him a red card, reducing the home side to 10 men.
Seven minutes later Pirates took full advantage of their numerical superiority, outnumbering Maritzburg defenders with a speedy counter-attack before Collins Mbesum provided a cross that was headed home by Andile Jali to make it 2-0.
On 65 minutes Thabo Matlaba almost added to his growing list of brilliant goals. The Pirates player drew Walters off his line before turning away and looping a shot toward goal – which was guarded by two outfield players on the line – but his dipping strike bounced off the top of the crossbar.
With just over 10 minutes to play Maritzburg pulled a goal back. A Delron Buckley pass into the penalty area was only half-cleared by Happy Jele, teeing the ball up for Cuthbert Malajila to drive a shot into the top corner of the net and reduce the deficit to 2-1.
Pirates moved to 31 points – the same total as Chiefs – with the victory, but remain in second place due to an inferior goal difference. The Amakhosi can reclaim their three-point buffer if they beat University of Pretoria on Saturday evening.
Maritzburg United (0) 1 (Malajila 79’)
Orlando Pirates (1) 2 (Manyisa 32’, Jali 57’)
United: Walters, Petersen, M. Booysen, D. Booysen, Cloete, Evans (Matuka 46’), Yende (Hendricks 69’), Morton, Buckley, Mandaza (Sarfo-Gyamfi 83’), Malajila
Pirates: Meyiwa, Jele, Sangweni, Lekgwathi, Matlaba, Jali (Mbuyane 67’), Ntshumayelo, Myeni, Manyisa, Klate (Okonkwo 81’), Mbesuma (McCarthy 70’)