SuperSport United, Bucs share the spoils

SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates shared the spoils in their DStv Premiership clash at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Wednesday, playing out an entertaining 1-1 draw.

The result sees second-placed Matsatsantsa close the gap to leaders Mamelodi Sundowns to three points (though the champions now have two games in hand), while the Buccaneers move up to fourth place, a further four points back from the summit.

Pirates claimed the lead as early as the 10th minute, with Vincent Pule receiving the ball just inside the penalty area from Deon Hotto, skipping past one challenge and then scoring with a shot which deflected off defender Thatayaone Ditlhokwe and gave United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams no chance.

The visitors suffered an injury blow just past the midway point of the first half when influential attacker Thembinkosi Lorch limped off. He was replaced by promising youngster Azola Tshobeni in the 28th minute.

Despite the disruption in their line-up, the Buccaneers put together some slick passing moves. SuperSport, by contrast, struggled to find an attacking rhythm and left strikers Thamsanqa Gabuza and Bradley Grobler isolated for most of the first half.

A goal down at the interval, SuperSport made a change at the start of the second half when they introduced Guily Manziba in place of Kudakwashe Mahachi in an effort to spark their attack into life. Tebogo Mokoena and Evans Rusike followed soon after.

United finally created a scoring chance in the 58th minute when Grobler put Manziba into space into the penalty area, but his shot was heroically blocked by Thulani Hlatshwayo. Soon after Luke Fleurs missed out on a free header at close range from a corner kick, and Mokoena warmed the palms of Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori with a shot direct from a free kick.

These chances signalled a change of momentum and Matsatsantsa deservedly drew level in the 66th minute. Ghampani Lungu found himself in space on the left of the penalty area and fired in a low shot-cross which was sliced into his own net by Ben Motshwari.

Pirates should have reclaimed the lead in the 80th minute when Siphesihle Ndlovu cut inside from the right flank and played a great ball to meet the run of Hotto, but the Namibian attacker skewed his effort high and wide from just a few metres out.

Ten minutes later SuperSport’s Williams had a heart-in-mouth moment when he charged off his line but was beaten to a through ball by Hotto, who steered an effort on target, but Fleurs bailed out his ‘keeper with a goal-line clearance to see the game end 1-1.

SuperSport will return to DStv Premiership action on Tuesday 2 March with a match away to AmaZulu, while Pirates will host Bloemfontein Celtic the following day.

SuperSport United (0) 1 (Motshwari og 66’)

Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Pule 10’)

SuperSport: Williams, Kekana, Fleurs, Ditlhokwe, Bhasera, Mahachi (Manziba 46’), Mohomi (Mokoena 53’), Mbule (Webber 79’), Lungu (Khumalo 90+2’), Grobler, Gabuza (Rusike 53’)

Pirates: Ofori, Ndlovu, Jele, Hlatshwayo, Mako, Makaringe, Monare, Motshwari, Pule, Hotto, Lorch (Tshobeni 28’ [Dlamini 85’])