Johannesburg - A late Vuyani Ntanga goal in additional time rescued a point for Bloemfontein Celtic as they drew 1-1 with Orlando Pirates in their Premiership match at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday.
A perfect Tlou Segolela header 12 minutes from time seemed likely to give Pirates the win, just days before their much anticipated Soweto derby against league leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
However, a woeful piece of defending from Bucs late in the game allowed a long throw-in to bounce in the box, and substitute Ntanga was on hand to snatch a share of the spoils.
VIDEO: Pirates v Bloem Celtic, highlights
Coming on in the second period, Segolela provided the much needed initiative the hosts had lacked up front.
Pirates had pressed Celtic for much of the encounter but were unable to seriously challenge until the intervention of Segolela.
Daine Klate took a free kick in a dangerous position for Pirates in the 10th minute. His cross from the right found Thabo Matlaba in the box, but his left-footed effort was scuffed wide.
Ndumiso Mabena went on a menacing run into the centre of the Celtic box in the 20th minute, but rather than shooting with the defenders backpedalling, he passed to Thulasizwe Mbuyane, who shot well wide of the target.
Lennox Bacela had a go for Celtic from just outside the box, but his shot rattled into the stands, and six minutes later an Oupa Manyisa cross into the box ended up requiring a sharp save from Patrick Tignyemb in the Celtic goal.
Mbuyane then ran at the Celtic defence and was able to reel off a strike from the edge of the area, but Tignyemb had the tame shot covered.
On the stroke of half-time, another Klate free kick from 25 metres out produced an easy save from the Celtic keeper.
Four minutes after the break, Joel Mogorosi found the ball at his feet in a good position on the right hand side of the area but the shot was closer to the corner flag than the goals.
Mabena came closest to opening the scores in the 54th minute as the game sparked to life. He met a cross from close range and his powerful header blazed just wide of target.
Mogorosi replied for Celtic three minutes later with a close ranger header of his own, but his shot also sailed narrowly wide.
Klate was involved again in the 67th minute. An attempted clearance fell to him on the edge of the area, but Klate's first-time shot was fired wide.
With 12 minutes left, Segolela made a well-timed charge into the box, meeting a cross with just the keeper to beat, and made no mistake to give Pirates the lead.
His goal was cancelled out by Ntanga 14 minutes later as the Buccaneers fell further behind in the title race.
While Pirates, who held a game in hand, remained second in the standings, rivals Chiefs, who beat bottom feeders Chippa United 2-0 in a simultaneous fixture, stretched the gap to five points at the top of the standings.