Bethlehem - Free State Stars put in a strong performance at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Wednesday to hold Orlando Pirates to a 1-1 draw in a PSL match.
The result saw the Buccaneers’ winning streak ended at four matches. Kermit Erasmus opened the scoring, but Ea Lla Koto equalised through Moeketsi Sekola, who netted for the ninth time this season to move clear at the top of the goal scorers’ chart.
Pirates got off to a flying start and opened the scoring in the eighth minute through a fantastic passing movement that ended with Kermit Erasmus firing a low, left-footed shot just inside goalkeeper Johnny Mathole’s left-hand upright.
The Buccaneers looked full of confidence, but a lack of quality in either their final pass or shot meant they were unable to capitalise on their early dominance, and Stars gradually worked their way back into the game.
The hosts almost equalised on 35 minutes when Sydney Masana’s great cross from the left was glanced just wide of the target by Adam Abdul-Basit, but just three minutes they came good on their threat when Moeketsi Sekola fired home a left-footed shot from just outside the box for 1-1.
Ea Lla Koto should have gone into the break with the lead, as in the 44th minute Abdul-Basit squandered two quick chances from point-blank range after Brighton Mhlongo had fumbled a seemingly tame shot from Danny Venter.
The second half lacked the fluency of the first, with both teams struggling to reassert the rhythm and impressive attacking play they had displayed. Stars were perhaps the dominant side in the second stanza, which Pirates coach Eric Tinkler conceded by withdrawing striker Lennox Bacela and shoring up his midfield with Thandani Ntshumayelo.
The match ended all square at 1-1, a result which sees Bucs remain in fourth place on the log on 36 points from 21 matches, while Ea Lla Koto are 13th with 22 points from 21 league outings.
Free State Stars (1) 1 (Sekola 38’)
Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Erasmus 8’)
Free State Stars: Mathole, Kerspuy, Cardoso, Sankara, Rakoti, Mashego, Masehe, Sekola, Venter, Abdul-Basit (Thethani 76’), Masana (Mabunda 69’)
Orlando Pirates: Mhlongo, Jele, Mahamutsa, Gcaba, Matlaba, Makola, Sarr, Manyisa, Rakhale (Pelembe 81’), Erasmus (Musonda 76’), Bacela (Ntshumayelo 64’)