Another title blow for Pirates
Collins Mbesuma of Orlando Pirates and Tamsanqa Teyise of AmaZulu (Backpage)
Durban - Orlando Pirates’ hopes of retaining their Absa Premiership title took another blow after they were held to a 1-1 draw by AmaZulu here on Wednesday night.
Collins Mbesuma fired the Buccaneers ahead in the fourth minute, but his effort was cancelled out just before the hour mark by Goodman Dlamini.
The result, coupled by Kaizer Chiefs drawing 1-1 with Maritzburg United in a simultaneous fixture, meant that Roger de Sa’s men missed another chance to reduce the gap on leaders Amakhosi, still trailing by seven points with seven matches to play.
Pirates began with a bang and were rewarded with the opening goal when Daine Klate
’s angled ball picked out Oupa Manyisa
in the box and the Bafana Bafana midfielder, closed down by goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini, laid on for Mbesuma to slide the ball into the right corner.
AmaZulu failed to conjure up a meaningful reply straight after, although Ayanda Dlamini had a shot blocked by a defender following an inviting ball from the right by Thokozani Mshengu.
Pirates goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa
was finally forced into a first save in the 20th minute when the ball sat up nicely for Nkanyiso Cele and the defender’s low strike to the right was turned away for a corner.
At the other end Kapini almost gifted the visitors a second when he dropped a Khethokwakhe Masuku corner, allowing Klate to stick a foot in, although Goodman Dlamini hacked clear on the line.Andile Jali
was also making an impression on the home defence and barged his way into the penalty area moments later, only to send his shot into the side netting.
Usuthu had another good opportunity 10 minutes before the interval when they were awarded a free-kick from outside the box, but Tamsanqa Teyise thumped his shot just wide of the upright.
After the restart, Masuku twice almost capitalised on some space down the left, first ballooning his shot over the crossbar, before shooting wide at the near post with Kapini scrambling.
Goodman Dlamini then fluffed an excellent one-on-one chance when he was closed down by Meyiwa, before the equaliser arrived in the 59th minute.
Mshengu’s shot from the right side of the box came back off the near post and Goodman Dlamini calmly curled in to draw the hosts level.
Masuku was again at the heart of a Pirates foray when he thumped a rising shot over, while Njabulo Manqana found himself in acres of space when AmaZulu counter-attacked, only for his shot to strike the side-netting.
With 20 minutes to play, Jali slid in Mbesuma, whose goal-bound shot was clawed away by Kapini, before Lucky Lekgwathi
again tested the Zimbabwean with a powerful header that was directed straight at the goalkeeper.
Usuthu could have pinched a winner late on, but Ayanda Dlamini arrived a split second late to try and meet a sumptuous cross by replacement winger Joseph Malongoane as the points were shared.