Orlando Pirates’ title challenge ends in a whimper

Orlando Pirates’ Absa Premiership title challenge ended in a whimper on Saturday at the Cape Town Stadium as they lost 1-0 to Cape Town City.

With Mamelodi Sundowns having beaten Ajax Cape Town in a concurrent match to mathematically seal the title, the Buccaneers’ result against the Citizens was irrelevant, but the Soweto giants will still be disappointed at a first league loss in almost three months.

The teams traded half chances through the first 30 minutes of the match, though neither really tested out goalkeepers Sage Stephens and Siyabonga Mpontshane. The most notable incident was a Pirates appeal for a penalty in the 28th minute after Taariq Fielies appeared to use his upper arm to direct the ball away from Justin Shonga.

City then claimed the lead almost out of nowhere, as a chipped ball forward was beautifully chested by Lyle Lakay into the path of Ayanda Patosi, who fired a shot from just outside the box into the bottom corner of the net, 1-0.

The Buccaneers had the ball in the back of the net through a fine finish from Thabo Qalinge in injury time at the end of the first half, but the attacker was correctly flagged for offside and the goal was scratched off.

Qalinge was inches away from bringing the visitors level midway through the second half, as he cracked a fearsome volley from a dropping ball just inside the box but was disappointed to see the effort rebound off the woodwork.

As the match wore on and Pirates began throwing more numbers forward, it was City who looked the likelier scorers with their pace on the counter attack, though Benni McCarthy’s men too often lacked the necessary composure in the final third to kill off their opponents.

Qalinge had yet another scoring chance when he was put in on goal in the 83rd minute, but he was unable to beat Stephens one-on-one, leaving Pirates to suffer a first league defeat since they were beaten in the ‘Mother City’ by Ajax Cape Town back in January.

Cape Town City (1) 1 (Patosi 35’)

Orlando Pirates 0

City: Stephens, Mkhize, Johannes, Fielies, Edmilson, Matsi, Nodada, Patosi (Martin 61’), Ralani (Mngonyama 74’), Lakay, Juma (Akosah-Bempah 80’)

Pirates: Mpontshane, Nyauza, Jele, Thopola (Morrison 83’), Maela, Mlambo (Makola 60’), Nyatama, Mobara (Gabuza 72’), Qalinge, Memela, Shonga