Pirates denied second spot finish

Orlando Pirates were denied a second place Absa Premiership finish when they drew 1-1 against Maritzburg United at Harry Gwala Stadium on Wednesday night.

An early goal by Deolin Mekoa and an equaliser by Kermit Erasmus were the only goals on the night allowing both sides to share the spoils.

The draw leaves the hosts at position eight with 37 points and the visitors at No 3 with 49 points, missing the Caf Champions League spot next season.

Although the Sea Robbers came to the City of Choice on the back of two wins, one in the league and one in the Caf Confederations Cup, their start in this encounter was a bit sluggish as the hosts took the game to them.

As early as the third minute, goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo was beaten by Mekoa’s shot which deflected off Happy Jele and sailed into the net, handing Steve Komphela’s men the lead.

In the 10th minute, the hosts were buoyed by their early lead and took charge of the proceedings and moved forward in search of the second, however, Issa Sarr and the defence stood firm.

Eric Tinkler’s men surged forward and created a beautiful chance when Erasmus squared for Thamsanqa Gabuza who was a bit ahead of the ball as the chance was wasted.

Despite their firmness at the back, United couldn’t stop the Buccaneers attack when Mpho Makola unleashed a great free-kick but goalkeeper Virgil Vries was equal to the task in the 33rd minute.

In the beginning of the second stanza, the Soweto giants signalled their intentions as Erasmus started brightly with two attempts at goal, however, they were both off the target.

In the 51st minute, the visitors were dealt a huge blow when Tinkler was furious after a dubious decision by the referee and Victor Gomes responded by giving the coach his marching orders, leaving Teboho Moloi in charge on the touchline.

14 minutes later, the on-form Erasmus managed to break free and smashed to the bottom corner, bringing the Buccaneers back into the game after a beautiful turn on the D-line.

Moloi brought in Lehlohonolo Majoro for the goalscorer and Sifiso Myeni immediately set him through with a great pass, but it couldn’t reach Major and United cleared to hold on to the point.

Maritzburg United: (1) (Mekoa 3’)

Orlando Pirates: (0) (1) (Erasmus 64’)

Pirates: Mhlongo, Jele, Sangweni, Nyauza, Matlaba, Sarr, Manyisa, Makola (Rakhale 77’), Gabuza (Masuku 46’), Myeni, Erasmus (Majoro 77’)

United: Vries, Paintsil, Mkhize, Booysen (Khumzlo 46’), Zulu, Lentjies, Mngonyama, Mekoa, Cele (Banda 74’), De Jongh and Anas (Vilakazi 69’)