Orlando Pirates missed the chance close the gap on DStv Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns after playing out to a goalless draw with Golden Arrows at the Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
Richard Ofori returned to the squad to replace Wayne Sandilands in goal for Pirates, while Bongani Sam, Thabang Monare and Terrence Dzvukamanja were all handed starts with Happy Jele making a rare one.
The Buccaneers started brightly with Vincent Pule and Bongani Sam combining well as they looked for an early goal in the opening exchanges.
The home side thought they had opened the scoring a minute into the game but saw their goal disallowed for offside.
Pirates had a chance to take the lead in the 18th minute when Sam sent an inviting cross into the path of Fortune Makaringe, but the attacker was unable to make any contact with the ball as he was crowded by yellow shirts in the box.
Arrows looked to catch Pirates on the counter four minutes later but the final ball let them down as their effort failed.
The home side nearly gifted Arrows with a goal in the 24th minute after a mix-up between Richard Ofori and Ntsikelelo Nyauza, but the defender recovered well to make the clearance.
Thembinkosi Lorch should have broken the deadlock in the 35th minute after connecting to a cross from Sam, but the Pirates attacker could only rattle the post with his header with the Arrows keeper well beaten.
The game went into half time with the score locked at 0-0.
Arrows ran out the better side in the second half and came close to taking the lead but Siyabonga Dube failed to beat Ofori from close range.
Josef Zinnbauer decided to bring on fresh legs on the hour mark as Deon Hotto and Gabadinho Mhango came on to replace Sam and Lorch, respectively.
Pule Mmodi should have handed the visitors the lead after 70 minutes of play but the midfielder failed to trouble Ofori as he blazed his shot wide of goal.
At other end, Pirates made another double change four minutes later as Terrence Dzvukamanja and Vincent Pule made way for Linda Mntambo and Wayde Jooste.
Abafana Bes’thende came close to scoring the winning goal with five minutes left to play, but Mmodi’s long-range effort sailed wide of target as Arrows enjoyed a great deal of possession in the closing stages.
Hotto thought he had won the game for Pirates in the 88th minute when he slid the ball past Sifiso Mlungwana to find the net after he was played through on goal by Makaringe, but the linesman flagged him for offside.
Arrows saw more off the ball in the closing stages as they went in search of the winning goal, but both teams were forced to share the spoils after the final whistle.
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