Pirates down Maritzburg on their return

Orlando Pirates beat Maritzburg United 1-0 on their return to league football. Collins Mbesuma’s first half strike was the difference between the two sides in an Absa Premiership encounter played at the Harry Gwala stadium in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday evening.

Maritzburg United coach Clinton Larsen made five changes to the side that lost to Golden Arrows on Sunday, with Ayanda Nkosi, who scored off the bench against Abafana Bes’thende, rewarded with a start.

Roger de Sa on the other hand made three changes to the starting XI that beat SuperSport United to reach the final of the Telkom Knockout over the past weekend.

Lucky Lekgwathi replaced the injured Rooi Mahamutsa, while Aubrey Ngoma and Collins Mbesuma started ahead of Thandani Ntshumayelo and Lennox Bacela respectively.

The game started off slowly, as both sides settled into the wet conditions that welcomed them out onto the park.

Ryan de Jongh forced Senzo Meyiwa into a good save in the 19th minute of the encounter. The Team of Choice countered quickly down the right, de Jongh found himself in space before pulling the trigger but Meyiwa was up to the task to make a good save at his near post.

Thabo Matlaba looked dangerous for the Sea Robbers down the right flank and it was he who was the first to test Shu-Aib Walters three minutes later.

Pirates opened the scoring in the 31st minute through Collins Mbesuma. Matlaba made a driving run forward before squaring the ball into the path of the Zambian marksman, who made no mistake from close range, 1-0.

Meyiwa made a vital interception just before the break to deny Maritzburg a chance, the Bafana shot stopper got in between Nkosi and Thamsanda Mkhize before steering the ball away from danger.

Chances were far and few between in the second stanza, with both defences holding firm.

Thokozani Sekotlong had an opportunity to pull one back in the 76th minute. The former Tuks striker outmuscled Matlaba in the air but he was unable direct Delron Buckley’s pinpoint cross on target.

The loss is United’s third on the trot, and subsequently demotes them down to 10th position on the log.

Pirates remain bottom of the table despite the win, it must be noted, though, that the Sea Robbers have only played four league matches.

Maritzburg United 0

Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Mbesuma 31’)

Teams:

Maritzburg United: Walters, Matuka, M.Booysen, Awal, Petersen (Isaacks 46’), Morton, Mkhize, De Jongh, Sekotlong, Evans (Buckley 22’), Nkosi (Yakubu Mohammed 67’)

Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa, Jele, Matlaba, Lekgwathi, Gcaba, Jali, Manyisa, Myeni, Segolela (Ntshumayelo 57’), Ngoma (Masuku 70’), Mbesuma (Bacela 70’)