Wits edge past Pirates to go three points clear

Bidvest Wits’ excellent start to the 2018/19 Absa Premiership season continued on Wednesday night when they defeated Orlando Pirates 1-0 at Orlando Stadium.

A late own goal from Gladwin Shitolo gave the Clever Boys a third successive victory and sent them three points clear at the top of the log. The Buccaneers drop to sixth spot after suffering their first league defeat of the campaign.

Wits created the first clear scoring chance of the match, with a 12th-minute move seeing Deon Hotto pick out Mxolisi Machupu on the edge of the penalty area, but his goal-bound effort was tipped over the crossbar by Siyabonga Mpontshane.

On 25 minutes the Clever Boys created another good chance, with a route-one ball allowing Gift Motupa the chance to open up space for a shot, but he sent his effort over the target.

Pirates gradually began to assert themselves but struggled to find a way past Wits’ defence. Yet in the 43rd minute the visitors’ Sifiso Hlanti made a terrible error which resulted in Justin Shonga finding himself one-one-one with Darren Keet, only to fail in his attempt to beat the goalkeeper.

Pirates attacker Augustine Mulenga did not emerge for the second half after suffering an ankle injury and the hosts replaced him with Thamsanqa Gabuza.

The Buccaneers nearly claimed the lead in the 54th minute, with former Wits man Vincent Pule breaking into space in the middle of the park before unleashing a long-range effort which had the beating of Keet but rebounded off the upright.

The Soweto side looked the likelier scorers through the second half, though they were restricted to long-range efforts such as those by Shonga and Xola Mlambo which were well-struck but failed to find the target.

Against the run of play, Wits claimed the lead in the 80th minute. Substitute Haashim Domingo did great work to break free down the right of the penalty area and send in a low cross which took a wicked deflection off defender Gladwin Shitolo to beat Mpontshane at his near post.

Pirates looked for an equaliser as the minutes ticked down and substitute Paseka Mako sent a powerful left-footed effort over the bar in the 88th, though Keet appeared to have the shot covered had it been on target.

Both teams will be in Absa Premiership action again this weekend, with Wits at home to SuperSport United on Saturday night and Pirates away to Bloemfontein Celtic on Sunday afternoon.

Orlando Pirates 0

Bidvest Wits 1

Shitolo 80’ (OG)

Pirates: Mpontshane, Thopola, Jele, Shitolo, Maela, Mlambo, Motshwari, Nyatama, Pule (Lorch 77’), Shonga (Mako 67’), Mulenga (Gabuza 47’)

Wits: Keet, Hlatshwayo, Johannes, Mkhwanazi, Hlanti, Dzvukamanja (Domingo 64’), Alexander (Weidlich 86’), Monare, Hotto, Machupu, Motupa (Murray 58’)