Orlando Pirates got their Absa Premiership campaign back on track and moved up to third on the standings with a 2-1 victory over Bloemfontein Celtic at the Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Buccaneers needed a late goal from Patrick Malokase – his first for the club and against his former team – to claim the three points after earlier strikes from Daine Klate and Nathan Paulse had left the game seemingly headed for a draw.
Pirates got off to a flying start, opening the scoring in the sixth minute through Daine Klate. In a premeditated, training-ground move, Moeneeb Josephs’ long goal kick was superbly controlled in the Celtic penalty area by Klate before he cracked a left-footed volley past a helpless Patrick Tignyemb.
Celtic appealed vociferously for offside, but Bucs’ brilliantly executed route-one play was correctly allowed to stand, handing them an early advantage. They should have already been a goal up by that stage anyway, as Tlou Segolela had missed from a free header in the box in just the third minute of the match.
The visitors, after the early onslaught from Pirates, gradually grew into the game and began to threaten. On 27 minutes a clever ball over the top of the defence from Danny Venter sent Dino Ndlovu through but the attacker’s attempted lob travelled over the target.
Yet Pirates continued to create opportunities from the wide positions and just after the half hour mark Segolela swung in a good cross from the left that was met by Thulasizwe Mbuyane and his header rebounded off the base of the near post.
The first half ended with a seven-minute spell of extra time after earlier injuries to Lucky Lekgwathi and Moeneeb Josephs had seen lengthy stoppages of play.
Lekgwathi, who took a heavy knock to the head in the first half, didn’t re-appear for the second stanza and was replaced by Thando Mdluli. The young defender made an immediate impact when he cleared a goal-bound Bennett Chenene shot off the line in the 47th minute.
That chance was the first of many for Phunya Sele Sele in the second half and they were certainly the better team in the second 45 minutes. However, they had to wait until 13 minutes before the end of regulation time to finally bring themselves level.
The man to do so was substitute Nathan Paulse, who caused the Pirates defence all kinds of grief from the moment he came on from the bench. The tall striker leveled the scores on 77 minutes with a low shot that beat Josephs’ right hand and went in off the inside of the upright.
From that moment it looked as if the visitors would go on to win the game, as they had all the momentum on their side. But a lapse at the back in the 87th minute saw former Celtic star Patrick Malokase head the winning goal off a superb Ruben Cloete cross.
The result was harsh on Celtic, who deserved at least a draw for their efforts, but Pirates will be delighted at having got back to winning ways.
In the other Premiership matches, Ajax Cape Town beat Mpumalanga Black Aces 2-0 to move to the sdecond position on the log with BidVest Wits University and AmaZulu settleing for a 3-3 draw.-Backpagepix