Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic has hailed his players for showing persistence in snatching a 1-0 Premiership win against an ultra-defensive Free State Stars at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
"It's very difficult playing against teams that come into the match to defend all the time," Vermezovic said.
"It was a challenge for us to stay disciplined and focused throughout the match. We made a couple of mistakes in defence, but fortunately we were not punished."
A powerful 72nd minute volley by Daine Klate secured the victory for the Soweto heavyweights after battling to crack open the Stars defensive wall.
Stars' game tactic was to absorb the attack thrown at them and then to try and catch the opposition on the counter-attack.
With the entire team defending in their own half, Stars aimed to frustrate the hosts, whose fans were becoming anxious as the clock ticked away.
Stars goalkeeper Glenn Verbauwhede kept his team in the match -- pulling off splendid stops to deny the home side earlier in the match.
After taking the lead, Pirates had to hold on to their advantage for dear life when a Stars' reprisal almost led to an equaliser.
Stars unleashed a late surge on the opposition which forced Pirates to make two goalline saves in the 89th minute. Pirates captain Siyabonga Sangweni cleared the ball away in-front of his goal-mouth after a scramble for the ball.
The Serbian-born coach said it was crucial his team was able to overcome whatever tactics were deployed by the opposition.
"It is part of football that you find teams that play with this kind of strategy. Their goalkeeper was sharp and prevented us from getting our goal earlier," Vermezovic said.
"It was important that we continued attacking them."
Stars defender Bokang Thlone suffered a broken jaw after he appeared to have been kicked during a clash with Khethokwakhe Masuku. The Pirates winger went unpunished as the referee failed to notice the infringement in the first half.
Stars coach Tom Saintfiet was furious after the match, lashing out about the injury incurred by Thlone.
"I am very angry with what happened to my player who had to be taken to the hospital. That tackle was unacceptable and I was in a situation where I now had to make a forced substitution."
Had Stars been positive in their approach to the game, they may have had a shot at grabbing the points away from home.
It was the Buccaneers' fourth victory of the season in the league as they surged up the table to join the chasing pack on 14 points.
For Stars it was their fourth loss, having accumulated 10 points so far in the Premiership.