Diamond Thopola of Orlando Pirates challenges Goodman Dlamini of Free State Stars during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Free State Stars on12 May 2018 at Orlando Stadium Pic Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Saturday May 12, 2018. 17:12
Ntsikelelo Nyauza and Thamsanqa Gabuza scored a goal apiece as Orlando Pirates defeated Free State Stars 2-1 at Orlando Stadium on the final day of the 2017/18 Absa Premiership season.
Though the result was of no consequence to the Buccaneers – who were set to finish runners-up regardless – they will still be happy at having ended their campaign on a positive note.
Ea Lla Koto, meanwhile, have bigger fish to fry when they face Maritzburg United in next weekend’s Nedbank Cup final.
Pirates looked the more lively team in the early stages, but they had to wait until the 22nd minute to take the lead, with Ntsikelelo Nyauza getting on the end of a corner kick to direct a header into the top corner of the net.
Sadly for the Bucs goal-scorer he succumbed to a thigh injury just over 10 minutes later and was replaced by Gladwin Shitolo. But even with the disruption in their defence, Pirates were able to see out the half and take a 1-0 lead into the break.
Stars hit back just six minutes into the second half, with a free kick flicked on by Paulus Masehe to find Nhlanhla Vilakazi, who marked his final Ea Lla Koto appearance by sending a low shot beyond Wayne Sandilands to make it 1-1.
The visitors looked to claim the lead for the first time on 63 minutes, with Goodman Dlamini shooting on target from long range, but Sandilands scrambled across his line to palm the ball away for a corner kick.
Bucs reclaimed the ascendancy in the 85th minute: Justin Shonga’s long-range shot was only half stopped by substitute goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare, allowing Thamsanqa Gabuza to turn home the loose ball from close range to make it 2-1.
Orlando Pirates (1) 2 (Nyauza 22’, Gabuza 85’)
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Vilakazi 51’)
Pirates: Sandilands, Nyauza (Shitolo 36’), Jele (Gabuza 78’), Thopola, Maphanga (Mtshali 89’), Mbulu, Munetsi, Mlambo, Qalinge, Shonga, Mulenga
Stars: Ngobeni (Sangare 80’), Mobbie, Mahamutsa, Mbhele, Phungwayo, Jantjie (Hlubi 88’), Masehe, Vilakazi (Anas 90+1’), Dlamini, Tchilimbou, Mthembu