Pirates held by AmaZulu

AmaZulu and Orlando Pirates claimed a point each when their Absa Premiership encounter ended in a 1-1 draw at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Thursday night.

Ayanda Gcaba fired the Soweto giants ahead just before the hour mark, but Carlington Nyadombo replied a few minutes later to earn a share of the spoils for his side.

The visitors settled quicker and came close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute when Lucky Lekgwathi connected with Khethokwakhe Masuku’s corner at the far post, but the captain sent his header wide.

The Buccaneers continued to ask the questions with Andile Jali firing wide from the right side of the box in the eighth minute, while Masuku also drilled his long range effort wide a minute later.

Roger De Sa’s men had two chances in the 13th minute but Thandani Ntshumayelo headed over after making a great run to meet Kermit Erasmus cross, while the latter shot straight at the goalkeeper moments later.

Usuthu had their first clear chance in the 15th minute as Goodman Dlamini beat Ayanda Gcaba to the ball on the right and raced into the box before shooting from a tight angle, but Senzo Meyiwa was able to stop the ball at his near post.

Eight minutes later Bongani Ndulula used his strength to protect the ball before finding Goodman Dlamini just inside the box, but this time the attacking midfielder was denied by the upright with Meyiwa well-beaten.

Both sides had opportunities to take the lead three minutes before the break but both Carlington Nyadombo and Tamsanqa Teyise failed to connect with Nkosinathi Mthiyane’s inswinging corner, while Masuku shot straight at Aubrey Mathibe at the other end.

Pirates came close again three minutes into the second half when Teyise’s headed clearance fell for Masuku on the left side of the box, but his shot was deflected just over the crossbar.

Ayanda Dlamini was then put through on the right in the 53rd minute but the forward played a low ball across the goalmouth with none of his teammates available to finish.

The opening goal arrived three minutes later when Gcaba headed home from the edge of the six-yard box, connecting with a corner from Aubrey Ngoma.

However, Usuthu equalised in similar fashion in the 67th minute as Nyadombo beat Meyiwa with a powerful header after he was picked out by a pinpoint freekick from Marc Van Heerden.

The visitors almost restored their lead four minutes later when Masuku curled his freekick towards goal from a tight angle, but Mathibe reacted quickly to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Four minutes later Erasmus fired two shots from inside the box but on both occasions he was denied by AmaZulu defenders who put their bodies on the line to keep the scores level.

Thabo Matlaba should have fired his side ahead in the 83rd minute when he ran onto a cutback cross from Ngoma, but the fullback fired wide with an open net in front of him.

The Buccaneers had another opportunity four minutes later when substitute Helder Pelembe slipped Happy Jele through on the right, but his shot was beaten away by Mathibe at the near post.

The last chance fell for the visitors in the third minute of added time when Usuthu failed to clear a corner, but Gcaba fired just over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area.

AmaZulu (0) 1 (Nyadombo 67’)

Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Gcaba 56’)

Teams:

AmaZulu: Mathibe, Macala, Van Heerden, Teyise (Mwedihanga 57’), Nyadombo, Madondo, Shabalala (Arwuah 63’), Dlamini G, Mthiyane, Dlamini A, Ndulula (Jakob 82’)

Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa, Lekgwathi, Matlaba, Jele, Gcaba, Ngoma, Masuku (Myeni 84’), Manyisa, Jali, Ntshumayelo (Makola 77’), Erasmus (Pelembe 84’)