Orlando Pirates claimed a narrow 1-0 victory over Maritzburg United in a DStv Premiership match at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Saturday evening.
The win took the Buccaneers to the fourth spot on the league standings – three points behind third-placed SuperSport United, while the Team of Choice remained 14th on the log.
The Buccaneers dominated the match from the start with Vincent Pule and debutant Azola Tshobeni causing havoc for the Team of Choice’ defence.
Pule was sent through on goal in the sixth minute, but he lost the foot race and Maritzburg goalkeeper Bongani Mpandle came out and cleared away the danger.
Maritzburg were forced to make a substitute after Clayton Daniels went down and he was replaced by fellow experienced defender Nazeer Allie in the 21st minute.
Pirates then upped the tempo and Pule then forced Mpandle into a decent save with a long-range shot five minutes before the half-hour mark.
Tshobeni set-up Bongani Sam just after the half-hour mark and the latter’s goal-bound attempt was blocked in the box as pressure mounted on the home side.
The visitors deservedly broke the deadlock in the 40th minute when Sam delivered a quality cross into the opposition’s box and Deon Hotto turned the ball home to make it 1-0 to Pirates.
The score was 1-0 to Pirates following a first-half which was dominated by the Soweto giants.
Bongokuhle Hlongwane, Daylon Claasen and Thabiso Kutumela, who are all attackers, were introduced by Maritzburg coach Ernst Middendorp prior to the start of the second-half.
Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori was called into action in the 54th minute and he pushed away Malebogo Modise’s dangerous curling cross.
Hlongwane had a chance to test Ofori from close range 10 minutes after the hour-mark, but Thabang Monare made a crucial block to deny the Maritzburg striker.
Both teams launched late attacks in the closing stages with Thembinkosi Lorch firing over the crossbar after being set-up Pule with seven minutes left on the clock.
At the other end, Claasen set-up Sibusiso Hlubi, who was fantastically denied by Ofori with a low save in the 90th minute to ensure that the game ended in a 1-0 win to Pirates.
Maritzburg (0) 0
Pirates (1) 1 (Hotto 40′)
Maritzburg: Mpandle, Daniels (Allie 21′) Modise, Morgan, Ismail (Hlongwane 46′ Hlongwane 79′), De Reuck, Mngonyama, Buchanan, Graham, Meza (Kutumela 46′), Moseamadi (Claasen 46′)
Pirates: Ofori, Hlatshwayo, Jele, Maela, Tshobeni (Ndlovu 77′), Makaringe (Motshwari 77′), Monare, Pule, Sam, Hotto, Lorch.