Orlando Pirates closed the gap on log leaders Bidvest Wits after claiming a hard-fought 4-2 victory over Chippa United at the Orlando Stadium on Tuesday, writes DYLAN APPOLIS.
The Buccaneers’ title charge took a slight bump after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Highlands Park in the Absa Premiership last weekend.
Milutin Sredojevic’s men are unbeaten in their last 12 games in the league and currently occupy second place on the standings with 28 points after 16 games.
Meanwhile, the Chili Boys have not won a league game in their last nine outings and suffered a 1-0 defeat to Bloemfontein Celtic in their last game.
Joel Masutha’s side are currently placed 15th in the league standings with 12 points from 16 matches played so far this season.
The home side got off to a great start and took the lead as early as the second minute when Happy Jele latched on to a Thembinkosi Lorch cross before smartly heading the ball home.
At the other end, Chippa started enjoying more attacking possession in the final third as they looked to penetrate the Buccaneers’ defensive line, but Pirates were happy to sit back and soak up the pressure.
Pirates should have doubled their lead moments later when Vincent Pule directed the ball across the face of goal towards Lorch, but the attacker was unable to make any contact with the ball.
Lorch nearly embarrassed Daniel Akpenyi when he tried to chip the Chippa goalkeeper from the halfway line, but the Pirates attacker didn’t get the desired result from his long-range effort.
The visitors then levelled matters after 22 minutes when Mark Mayambela laid the ball into the channel for Tebogo Tlolane, who buried the ball beyond Siyabonga Mpontshane, 1-1.
The Buccaneers restored their lead four minutes later when former Pirates man Phetso Maphanga cushioned the ball into his own net as Akpeyi slipped, 2-1.
Akpeyi came to his side’s rescue in the 39th minute when he made a double save to deny Pule and Musa Nyatama in quick succession.
However, Pirates held on to their 2-1 lead over Chippa as the game went into the half-time interval.
The home side picked up where they left off in the first half, with Augustine Mulenga getting the first attempt in the second half.
Pirates were then awarded a penalty in the 54th minute when Pule was brought down in the area by Gaona Modisane. Pule stepped up and made no mistake from the spot-kick, 3-1.
Chippa pulled a goal back in the 66th minute when Innocent Maela was caught unaware by a passing ball, which came off the midfielder and into his own net, 3-2.
The Chili Boys grew in confidence as the game went on and nearly levelled matters minutes later when Tebogo Makobela fired his effort against the upright with Mpontshane well beaten.
With six minutes left to play, Pirates extended their lead even further when Kudakwashe Mahachi came off the bench to side-foot the ball into the net after some brilliant combined play from Mbekile and Lorch.
Pirates held on to their lead over Chippa until the final minute to claim all three points at the Orlando Stadium.
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