Absa Premiership

Pirates, Maritzburg in goalless stalemate

2019-11-05 21:48
Eric Tinkler
Eric Tinkler (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Orlando Pirates were held to a 0-0 draw by Maritzburg United in an Absa Premiership encounter at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Both sides had a man sent off in a game that produced no goals but plenty of action, drama and controversy nonetheless.

Pirates almost took the lead with just a minute on the clock after Vincent Pule played a beautiful ball in behind the Maritzburg defence for Gabadinho Mhango to run on to. The Malawian got the ball in to the box for Kabelo Dlamini, but the former Bloemfontein Celtic player's effort was well dealt with by Richard Ofori in the Team of Choice goal.

Pule was pulling the strings in the early exchanges and found Mhango with another delicately played through ball but Ofori got to the ball just before the former Bidvest Wits man to snuff out the danger.

The Buccanneers were bossing possession and playing the better football of the two sides while Eric Tinkler's side were content to soak up the pressure and break on the counter attack wherever possible.

In the 25th minute, Pule was the provider once again when his cross found Tshegofatso Mabasa in the box, but the Bucs' top-scorer this season could only head straight at Ofori.

The Buccanneers won a free-kick in a promising position on the edge of the box in the 37th minute. Dlamini stepped up and curled a left-footed effort narrowly over the crossbar that had Ofori worried.

Soon after, the Bucs' best move of the half which involved slick one-touch passing and movement saw the ball played in to the feet of Pule by Fortune Makaringe with Pule unleashing the strike but Ofori was equal to the task as he diverted the ball around his post and out for a corner.

The visitors produced a sustained spell of pressure on the Pirates goal in the closing stages of the first half. On one particular attack, the ball was played in behind the Pirates defence down the right-hand side with the ball being put in to the box for Thabiso Kutumela but he was denied by a last-ditch Happy Jele intervention.

Ten minutes after the interval Dlamini supplied the delivery in to the box from the left-hand side for Mabasa, who headed narrowly wide of the left-hand upright.

Mabasa's night was cut short on the hour mark when he was replaced by Justin Shonga, whilst Augustine Mulenga came on for Dlamini as Rhulani Mokwena went about trying to inject some firepower in to his attack.

The double change seemed to breathe some life in to Pirates but the momentum was halted when they went down to ten men after Jele received a second yellow card for bringing down Kutumela.

The Buccanneers kept playing front-foot football despite the numerical disadavantage and with twenty minutes to go, Pule found Mhango in the area and his flick volley was brilliantly saved by Ofori.

Five minutes later, Mhango cut inside past two defenders on to his favoured right foot from the left-hand and struck his effort powerfully but unfortunately for him it was straight at Ofori.

Soon after, numerical parity was restored when Kwanda Mngonyama was given an early bath for a second bookable offence for bringing down Pule.

With ten minutes to go, the hosts came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. Mhango got to the byline on the left-hand side and cut the ball back in to the box for Shonga, whose first-time drive cannoned back off the crossbar.

In the end, the Soweto giants were not able to break down the Maritzburg defence as the pressure continues to build on the beleaguered Mokwena.

 

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 26 November 2019
Mamelodi Sundowns v AmaZulu, Loftus Versfeld Stadium 19:30
Highlands Park v Wits, Makhulong Stadium 19:30
Orlando Pirates v Polokwane City, Orlando Stadium 19:30
Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Stellenbosch v Kaizer Chiefs, Cape Town Stadium 19:30
Bloemfontein Celtic v Cape Town City, Dr Molemela Stadium 19:30
Maritzburg United v SuperSport United, Harry Gwala Stadium 19:30
Chippa United v Black Leopards, Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 19:30
Baroka FC v Golden Arrows, Peter Mokaba Stadium 19:30
Saturday, 30 November 2019
Polokwane City v Bloemfontein Celtic, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 15:30
Cape Town City v Highlands Park, Cape Town Stadium 18:00
Black Leopards v Golden Arrows, Thohoyandou Stadium 18:00
SuperSport United v Stellenbosch, Lucas Moripe Stadium 20:15
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