SuperSport dent Pirates’ title hopes

SuperSport dent Pirates’ title hopes
Richard Kissi Boateng of Supersport United challenged by Mthokozisi Dube of Orlando Pirates during the Absa Premiership 2017/18 match between Supersport United and Orlando Pirates at Mbombela Stadium, Johannesburg on 11 April 2018 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Wednesday Apr 11, 2018. 21:26

SuperSport United dealt a blow to Orlando Pirates’ Absa Premiership title hopes after the teams played to a goalless draw at Mbombela Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Matsatsantsa will be the happier of the two teams with the result, though it leaves them just one point clear of the relegation playoff spot after second-from-bottom Ajax Cape Town defeated Bidvest Wits in a concurrent match.

As for the Buccaneers, they are now three points behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns, but the Tshwane giants have a game in hand and the title is very much theirs to lose.

The teams traded a multitude of chances through the first half, though there were a few which stood out as great opportunities to take the lead.

On 14 minutes SuperSport’s Teboho Mokoena played a great ball into the penalty area to find a late run from Aubrey Modiba, but the midfield’s flicked header flashed over the crossbar, much to goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane’s relief.

Midway through the first half, at the other end of the field, Clayton Daniels completely missed a cross from Innocent Maela and Justin Shonga reacted well to control the unexpected ball, but then stabbed a shot wide of the target from just a few metres out.

Bucs midfielder Mpho Makola then hit the woodwork twice – in the 34th and 36th minutes – as he rattled the crossbar with a long-range effort, before redirecting a low cross from Thembinkosi Lorch onto the base of the far post.

Pirates continued to pile on the pressure early in the second half and United needed goalkeeper Ronwen Williams to make a finger-tip save to keep out a deft chip from Luvoyo Memela in the 51st minute.

The Soweto side had a major scare in the 70th minute when Mpontshane allowed a tame effort from Thuso Phala to slip through his fingers – luckily for the ‘keeper the ball trickled just wide of the target.

The remainder of the match was a frustrating time for Bucs, who dominated play but were unable to find a way through Matsatsantsa’s resilient defence. Even the introduction of Augustine Mulenga and Thabo Qalinge off the bench didn’t help the visitors find the breakthrough.

SuperSport United 0
Orlando Pirates 0

SuperSport: Williams, Nhlapo, Kekana, Daniels, Boateng, Furman, Lethsolonyane (Webber 83’), Phala, Mokoena, Modiba (Mnyamane 57’), Rusike

Pirates: Mpontshane, Dube (Munetsi 65’), Jele, Shitolo, Maela, Mlambo, Nyatama, Lorch (Mulenga 72’), Makola, Memela, Shonga (Qalinge 81’)

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