Orlando Pirates nicked a late goal to secure a 1-1 draw with Santos at the Athlone Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The result leaves the Buccaneers two points adrift of leaders Ajax Cape Town, with one game to go.
Bucs were in command for moist of the game, but struggled for the most part to create clear-cut chances, and when they did, they found home keeper Tshepo Motsoeneng in great form.
Pirates made nearly all of the early running, getting several balls into the box, which were however comfortably dealt with by Santos shot stopper supreme Motsoeneng.
It was the home side however who were to take a shock lead after just six minutes as Erwin Isaacs volleyed home from close range after Jacob Mokhasi found himself caught out by Ricardo Skippers’ long ball into the box.
Following the goal, Bucs continued to enjoy most of the ball possession, but struggled to create clear-cut chances against a stubborn Santos defence.
They were however unlucky not to score in the 22nd minute when a speedy counter-attack ended with Dikgang Mabalane hammering a shot into the right hand upright – a bit earlier Thulasizwe Mbuyane had also seen his angled effort graze the outside of the post.
Still though for the most part the Soweto side failed to cause much of a threat around the home team’s goal – there were half chances for Katlego Mashego, who shot tamely, and Lucky Lekgwathi, who flashed a header wide, but Motsoeneng remained pretty comfortable at the back as his defenders did their jobs admirably.
The Peoples’ Team made a brighter start to the second half, but before long it was Pirates who were dominating, sending in long range shots, crosses and corners into the box, but still without reward.
The best chance of the early stages of the second stanza fell to Oupa Manyisa, but he pulled his shot just wide of goal after the ball had fallen to him just outside the area.
The pattern of play was relentless as far as Bucs’ attack of the Santos goal was concerned, but time and time again the Buccaneers came out empty handed.
This was for the most part due to the Santos defence’s ability to ensure if a shot did come in, it was from range, and more often than not, blocked, while Motsoeneng made an acrobatic save to tip Andile Jali’s shot to safety.
So despite efforts for Mahamutsa and another try for Manyisa, the score-line remained 1-0 in favour of the Cape side as the game went deep into the second half.
But to Pirates’ credit, they kept on coming at the home side and their efforts were finally rewarded when Bongani Ndulula wriggled free of Zairon van Beulen before using the outside of his boot to flick the ball past Motsoeneng.
Jali nearly came up with a late winner, but again he was denied by the outstanding Motsoeneng.-Backpagepix