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Football | Absa Premiership

Pirates close in as ‘Downs falter again



Orlando Pirates moved level on points with Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Absa Premiership on Wednesday night, claiming a 1-0 away win over AmaZulu while the Brazilians were held to a goalless draw at home by Golden Arrows.

Johan Neeskens’ side still top the log thanks to a superior goal difference (+22 versus Pirates’ +9), but the Dutch tactician will be mightily concerned over their form: ‘Downs are in unbeaten in ten league games, but six of their last seven have been draws; the last three in a row all 0-0. They have also failed to win at home since November 2011.

As for Pirates, they gained a much-needed revitalisation of their away form by beating Usuthu 1-0 thanks to an early goal from Tokelo Rantie. It was only the fourth win on the road this season for Bucs and came at just the right time as they look to be timing their surge for the finishing line perfectly.

Their fellow Soweto clubs had differing fortunes in this round. Kaizer Chiefs suffered a 1-0 home defeat to Black Leopards in the lone Tuesday match, a massive blow to their hopes of winning the title, while Moroka Swallows beat Bidvest Wits 3-0 to keep themselves very much in the hunt.

The Birds are just two points adrift of ‘Downs and Bucs after their win over the Clever Boys, secured within the first 22 minutes thanks to an own goal from Mbulelo Mabizela and early strikes from David Mathebula and Bennett Chenene.

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Free State Stars are a further three points back in fourth after their 2-1 derby win over Bloemfontein Celtic. Ea Lla Koto found their goals via midfielders Dove Wome and Paulus Masehe, while Celtic’s consolation was scored by Lennox Bacela.

The bottom two of Jomo Cosmos and Santos both relinquished early leads to suffer 2-1 home defeats at the hands of Ajax Cape Town and Platinum Stars respectively. Third-from-bottom Leopards’ win on Tuesday means they have a four-point buffer to the People’s Team and a seven-point advantage over Ezenkosi.

SuperSport registered a sixth successive league game in which they failed to find the back of the net, drawing 0-0 at Maritzburg United. Matsatsantsa have now played well over 500 minutes of league football without scoring a goal and, at seven points adrift of the leaders, look well out of the title race.

Absa Premiership Round 23 results:

Tuesday, April 3

Kaizer Chiefs 0 Black Leopards 1 (Zulu 85’)

Wednesday, April 4

AmaZulu 0 Orlando Pirates 1 (Rantie 6’)

Free State Stars 2 (Wome 9’, Masehe 47’) Bloemfontein Celtic 1 (Bacela 69’)

Jomo Cosmos 1 (Loke 11’) Ajax Cape Town 2 (Billiat 82’, van Graan 86’)

Mamelodi Sundowns 0 Golden Arrows 0

Maritzburg United 0 SuperSport United 0

Moroka Swallows 3 (Mabizela (og) 2’, Mathebula 4’, Chenene 22’) Bidvest Wits 0

Santos 1 (Rodgers 11’) Platinum Stars 2 (Mere 68’ pen, Malokase 70’)

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