Pirates push Leopards closer to the drop

Orlando Pirates have pushed bottom-of-the-log Black Leopards closer to relegation from the DStv Premiership with a 3-0 win at the Orlando Stadium on Thursday evening.

A brace of goals from Tshegofatso Mabasa and a late strike from Frank Mhango saw the Buccaneers to victory and lifted them to fourth place on the table – one point behind third-placed Golden Arrows and with a game in hand on the Durban side.

Lidoda Duvha, meanwhile, remain adrift at the bottom of the log and look doomed for direct relegation to the second tier. They are six points behind Chippa United in the relegation playoff spot with only four matches remaining in their campaign.

Pirates dominated possession and began creating chances from early in the game, with Innocent Maela heading just wide from Deon Hotto’s corner kick in the 11th minute, while five minutes later Siphesihle Ndlovu saw his shot from the edge of the penalty area deflect just wide.

Around the half-hour mark the hosts spurned two more opportunities: Tshegofatso Mabasa skied a shot over the target from close range after being perfectly picked out by the overlapping Wayde Jooste, while Kabelo Dlamini sliced an effort way wide when presented with a shooting chance just outside the box.

Dlamini had his radar a little better tuned in the 41st minute when he looked to curl a shot past the right hand of Leopards goalkeeper Jonas Mendes, but the ball drifted just outside the post, while an effort on the stroke of half time saw Thulani Hlatshwayo head just wide from another fine ball by Jooste.

After a first 45 minutes in which they were wasteful, the Buccaneers began the second half in a clinical manner and claimed the lead 80 seconds after the restart: Abel Mabaso picked out a fine diagonal pass to free Jooste down the right, and his low ball across the face of goal was turned home by Mabasa for 1-0.

Leopards had a couple of half-chances to come up with an equaliser, but Pirates eventually forced a second goal midway through the second stanza: Jooste was again the architect, providing a teasing cross from the right, and Mabasa saw his header rebound off the post, but the ball fell kindly for him to scramble home at the second attempt.

Leopards looked to pull a goal back through Themba Ndlovu, who struck an effort on target direct from a free kick in the 84th minute, but Bucs goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands was well positioned to save.

Two minutes later Pirates added a third, with substitute Frank Mhango showing good composure and awareness to control Hotto’s cross and fire a low shot past the right hand of Mendes to wrap up an emphatic victory.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next midweek, with Pirates away to Stellenbosch FC on Tuesday 11 May and Leopards visiting Chippa United on Wednesday 12 May.

Orlando Pirates (0) 3 (Mabasa 47’ 67’, Mhango 86’)
Black Leopards 0

Pirates: Sandilands, Jooste, Hlatshwayo, Maela (Sesane 86’), Sam, Mabaso, Ndlovu (Monyane 90+2’), Zungu, Dlamini (Muwowo 86’), Hotto (Makgaka 90+2’), Mabasa (Mhango 69’)

Leopards: Mendes, Sampson (Matsimbi 83’), Gyimah, Masia, Mashoene, Mthethwa (Anas 89’), Makgetlwa (Mokoena 46’), Mathenjwa (Ndlovu 72’), Ramagalela, Kabwe (Khutlang 72’), Karuru.