A second-half strike from Gabadingo Mhango guided Orlando Pirates to a narrow 1-0 win over GladAfrica Championship team Uthongathi in their Nedbank Cup round-of-32 clash on Saturday afternoon.
Pirates were looking to bounce back from their mid-week 2-0 defeat by Golden Arrows, with coach Josef Zinnbauer making four changes to his starting XI with Thulani Hlatshwayo, Ben Motshwari and Gabadinho Mhango recalled to the team while Thabiso Sesane came in on debut.
Many may have expected Pirates to start the game quickly and get on top of their opposition, but they struggled to impose themselves on the visitors in the opening stages.
Deon Hotto was the first to have a sight at goal as his free kick was dealt with by the goalkeeper despite an awkward bounce.
The Soweto giants were struggling to create any openings and despite efforts from Ben Motshwari and Siphesihle Ndlovu, which flew over and were comfortably saved, they were restricted to efforts from range.
The scoreline was 0-0 heading into the break.
After a tentative start to the second half, matters finally heated up when Pirates found the back of the net. It was the returning Mhango, who got on the end of a Hotto cross before slipping the ball through the keeper’s legs and into the net, handing Zinnbauer’s men the lead with 63 minutes gone.
Pirates were then able to make a number of changes and as the fresh legs entered the field, the Sea Robbers began to dominate and looked to be coasting to victory.
In the end, the Soweto giants did enough to seal a spot in the next round of the Nedbank Cup with the tight 1-0 victory.
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