AJAX Cape Town and Orlando Pirates set Cape Town Stadium alight in their four-goal Absa Premiership thriller which ended 2-2 last night.
Abia Nale drew the first blood with a goal in the seventh minute of play, before second half goals from Takesure Chinyama and Mpho Makola almost handed Pirates the win.
The fixture bore a tremendous amount of weight for both Ajax and Pirates, as neither team could afford the loss in order to keep their respective objectives of the campaign alive.
Jan Versleijen took inspiration from the decisive players in his line-up which beat Free State Stars and opted to play with an attacking trident of Abia Nale, Khama Billiat and Lebogang Manyama.
For Pirates, Andile Jali returned to the starting line-up after having faced a race against fitness to make the line-up.
The Cape club couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game when they managed to grab the lead just seven minutes in.
Jali lost possession, which allowed Billiat to supply a through ball for Nale and he slotted it past Senzo Meyiwa with ease.
Pirates then had the perfect opportunity to draw level through Thabo Matlaba, who gained possession on the right from an absent Cecil Lolo. He had just the ‘keeper to beat, but he skied his effort over the crossbar.
Then, the ball was nearly turned into the back of Pirates’ net in the 20th minute when Lekgwathi intercepted Billiat’s cross, but, ‘Lucky’ for him, it went out at the post.
Sander Westerveld was then booked for time wasting, ten minutes later, before Meyiwa easily dealt with Manyama’s free-kick.
Pirates were looking far from their convincing selves and it was Ajax who were creating most of the chances at goal and they nearly extended their lead in the final minutes of the half.
Billiat laid off a ball to Manyama, who supplied a pinpoint cross to Nale on the right flank. The trickster then made a great run into the box before stinging the palms of the Bucs shot-stopper.
Ajax should have been 2-0 up at the start of the second half when Billiat had just the ‘keeper to beat at the near post but he skied his effort over the bar.
That miss proved to be costly when Pirates made it 1-1 in the 49th minute through Takesure Chinyama, who nodded a cross past Westerveld.
With a bee in their bonnet, Pirates came back firing and they added a second to their pickings when the substitute Mpho Makola tapped home a rebound off the post, just four minutes later, to make it 2-1.
Ajax’s response was immediate as Manyama supplied a through ball to Toriq Losper and he beat the last man to toe poke the ball into the back of the net, leaving 30 minutes for someone to seal the result.
The visitors were then handed a blow in the shape of Matlaba, who was forced off due to injury, with Patrick Phungawayo coming on.
Billiat had the opportunity to close the score line 15 minutes from the fulltime whistle, but his curled effort went agonisingly wide off the post, wrapping up the 2-2 scoreline.
Ajax Cape Town (1) 2 (Nale 7’, Losper 60)
Orlando Pirates (0) 2 (Chinyama 49’, Makola 53’)
Ajax Cape Town: Westerveld, Lolo, Booth, Hlatshwayo, Mokeke, Davids (Graham 82’), Scott, Losper (Shabalala 75’), Manyama, Billiat, Nale (Wanderson 80’)
Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa, Sangweni, Lekgwathi, Matlaba (Phungawayo 71’), Hele, Masuku, Manyisa (Klate 80’), Jali, Okonkwo (Makola 46’), Chinyama, Mabena.
In another match SuperSport United added to Chippa United’s woes with a 2-1 drubbing last night-Backpage TXT