Orlando Pirates have moved up to fourth on the DStv Premiership log after defeating Maritzburg United 2-0 at the Orlando Stadium in a catch-up match played on Sunday evening.
Vincent Pule netted both of the goals as the Buccaneers bounced back to winning form in the league, with the result seeing them move to 38 points – eight adrift of leaders Mamelodi Sundowns having now played two games more than the log-toppers.
The Team of Choice, meanwhile, saw their five-game winless streak come to an end, as they remain in 13th place, three points above the relegation playoff zone.
Maritzburg created most of the early attacking moments, with their pressing out of possession forcing Pirates into several mistakes and opening the path for chances for the likes of Thabiso Kutumela and Daylon Claasen – though they were unable to capitalise on them.
The Team of Choice’s strong start was blighted somewhat by a knee injury for attacker Jose Ali Meza, who appeared to twist his left leg in an innocuous challenge with Paseka Mako. Sibusiso Hlubi replaced the Venezuelan on 21 minutes.
Pirates’ first threat on goal came from attacking midfielder Kabelo Dlamini, who burst into space just outside the penalty area in the 32nd minute and let fly with a low drive which flashed just wide of the target.
Six minutes later the Buccaneers should have claimed the lead, with Deon Hotto running onto a great ball over the top from defender Thabiso Sesane to be faced one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Marcel Engelhardt made an excellent save with his right leg.
Hotto had another great chance in the final minute of regulation time in the first half when Thabang Monare played a fine pass to put him into space, but the Namibian winger struck high and wide with Engelhardt drawn out of position.
Pirates made a tactical switch at the start of the second half, replacing midfielder Ben Motshwari with attacker Vincent Pule, and the substitute broke the deadlock in the 59th minute: Fortune Makaringe ran onto a ball over the top of the defence, drew the ‘keeper off his line and hooked the ball back across goal, with Pule arriving at the far post to volley into an empty net.
Maritzburg should have drawn level on 71 minutes through Bongokuhle Hlongwane, who shot over the target from close range after a Ryan Rae long throw-in had caused all kinds of strife in the Pirates penalty area.
Bucs then punished an awful mistake from Engelhardt in the 78th minute, with the ‘keeper misjudging a long ball from his counterpart Wayne Sandilands and attempting a header just outside of his box – only succeeding in looping the ball behind him for Pule to have an easy headed finish.
The Maritzburg gloves-man made a couple of excellent saves in the dying minutes as he atoned for his earlier error, but they proved to be in vain as the Soweto giants registered their 10th league win of the season.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next weekend, with Maritzburg at home to Baroka FC on Friday, 23 April and Pirates away to Soweto rivals Swallows FC on Saturday, 24 April.
Orlando Pirates (0) 2 (Pule 59’ 78’)
Maritzburg United 0
Pirates: Sandilands, Mabaso, Sesane, Nyauza, Mako, Makaringe (Tshobeni 85’), Monare (Jooste 80’), Motshwari (Pule 46’), Dlamini (Mntambo 60’), Hotto (Monyane 85’), Mabasa
Maritzburg: Engelhardt, Rae, Daniels, Morgan, Shandu (Sifama 88’), Graham, Claasen, Tlolane (Moseamedi 54’), Meza (Hlubi 21’), Hlongwane (Stevic 88’), Kutumela. Supersport.com