10-man Pirates open with 2-2 draw

Orlando Pirates FC © Backpagepix

Orlando Pirates’ DStv Premiership campaign is not off the start they would have been hoping for, after being held 2-2 by Stellenbosch FC at Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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Looking to bounce back from last weekend’s MTN8 exit, the Buccaneers made the going tough for themselves by shipping an early goal and playing more than half of the game with 10 men. The Maroons, meanwhile, will take heart from a fighting display in Soweto.

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Stellenbosch got off to a dream start, claiming the lead in just the second minute. The visitors pushed forward in midfield and Junior Mendieta laid the ball off to returning attacker Waseem Isaacs, whose shot from just outside the penalty area took a wicked deflection off Thulani Hlatshwayo and beat goalkeeper Richard Ofori at his near post.

Pirates took time to find their feet in the game, but they soon began to boss possession and were rewarded with a brilliant equaliser on 18 minutes. Deon Hotto scored with a superb shot direct from a free kick, curling the ball over the defensive wall and into the top corner, with goalkeeper Lee Langeveldt doing well just to get fingertips on the shot.

Langeveldt came up trumps on 24 minutes when a fine passing move from the Buccaneers opened space for Kabelo Dlamini to shoot on goal from just inside the penalty area, but the Stellies ‘keeper made a fine save low to his right.

Pirates had momentum on their side, but on 41 minutes they were reduced to 10 men when Ntsikelelo Nyauza was deservedly shown a straight red card, having both elbowed Ashley Du Preez in a challenge on the by-line and then aimed a stomp downward at the same player rather than hurdling him.

The hosts introduced Vincent Pule off the bench at the start of the second stanza and he needed just four minutes to make an impact, flicking on a corner kick which was then headed home at the back post by Goodman Mosele to make it 2-1 to 10-man Bucs.

The Maroons responded with a double change, one of which was striker Judas Moseamedi. The former Cape Town City and Maritzburg United man marked his Stellies debut with a poacher’s goal to make it 2-2 on 55 minutes, bravely diving ahead of Hlatshwayo to meet Dean Van Rooyen’s cross and score with a glancing header.

The visitors, with their numerical advantage, naturally enjoyed most of the possession in what remained of the game, but struggled to create clear-cut chances, with their most notable effort a shot from a free kick by Nathan Sinkala which passed through the wall and forced an awkward save from Ofori in the 81st minute.

The teams will return to DStv Premiership action this coming midweek, with Pirates away to Marumo Gallants on Tuesday 24 August and Stellenbosch at home to TS Galaxy on Wednesday 25 August.

Orlando Pirates (1) 2 (Hotto 18’, Mosele 49’)
Stellenbosch FC (1) 2 (Isaacs 2’, Moseamedi 55’)

PIRATES: Ofori, Nyauza, Jele, Hlatshwayo, Shandu (Mthethwa 76’), Mosele, Mabaso, Tlolane (Makaringe 64’), Dlamini (Pule 46’), Hotto, Mhango (Dzvukamanja 64’)

STELLIES: Langeveldt, Van Rooyen, Kwinika, Mthethwa, Jabaar, Sinkala, Msengi (Adams 73’), Mendieta (Van Wyk 73’), Du Preez (Johannes 52’), Isaacs (Moseamedi 51’), Dimgba (Titus 89’)