Johannesburg - Wits and Orlando Pirates played to an entertaining 1-1 draw in their Absa Premiership match at the Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
After a goalless first 45 minutes, the Clever Boys broke the deadlock with just over 20 minutes to play through midfielder Mark Haskins but the Buccaneers earned a share of the points when Tlou Segolela found an 80th-minute equaliser.
Pirates had the first shot in anger – Daine Klate firing the ball into the side netting from a tight angle within the first two minutes – but it was Wits who dominated the early exchanges thanks to having more numbers in midfield.
However, lone striker Geoffrey Serunkuma was left isolated for the most part and the service from his wide men – Sifiso Myeni and David De Oliveira – left much to be desired.
With a quarter of an hour played Pirates’ Andile Jali came close to breaking the deadlock after picking up a loose ball in midfield and shooting just over the crossbar from about 20 metres out.
Midway through the first half Thulasizwe Mbuyane created some space for himself on the left flank and played in a teasing cross that was just beyond the reach of Teko Modise at the far post.
Wits, from almost conceding at one end, immediately attacked at the other and some slack defending from Pirates allowed De Oliveira a clear sight of goal – he unleashed a low shot that was superbly saved low at his near post by Moeneeb Josephs.
Bucs’ keeper made another great save just past the half hour mark, leaping high to his left to palm away a curling Myeni shot that may have snuck into the top corner of the goal.
Josephs’ counterpart in the Wits goal, Energy Murambadoro, had seen little action until the 37th minute when he pulled off a magnificent save, tipping away a Chiukepo Msowoya shot that looked destined to ripple the back of the net.
Two minutes later, much-maligned midfielder Teko Modise almost netted his first goal for Pirates since April 2009, rattling the Wits crossbar with a well-struck free kick from just outside the penalty area.
The early exchanges in the second half were somewhat scrappy but it was the home team on top, pressuring Bucs in midfield and enjoying plenty of possession though too often their final ball, be it from open play or set pieces, was poor.
Just before the hour mark the Clever Boys did finally play a good ball into the box, as Michael Morton crossed from the left, and it very nearly resulted in a goal – Sserunkuma got ahead of defender Ruben Cloete but his header rebounded off the upright.
Ten minutes later Wits were rewarded for their persistence. Right-back Katlego Pule floated in a cross from the flank that Josephs – looking west into the late afternoon sun – seemed to lose sight of, and Mark Haskins leapt ahead of the keeper to head home into an empty net.
Yet Wits’ lead lasted only until the 80th minute. Pirates broke free down the right through Mbuyane, who drilled in a flat, hard cross that Murambadoro come off his line to try and intercept but completely missed – substitute Tlou Segolela needed only to direct his header on target to score and duly did so.
There were no further clear scoring chances in the remainder of the game despite play going from end-to-end in the final minutes as the two teams threw caution to the wind in search of a winning goal.