Orlando Pirates’ recent lacklustre form continued on Wednesday night when they went down 1-0 at the hands of Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium.
|Noah Chivuta © Backpagepix
It is the Buccaneers’ third defeat of the season (equal to the amount they lost throughout all of the last campaign) and coach Julio Leal will already be coming under severe pressure.
The Soweto giants will certainly have to up their performance after the upcoming international break if they are to keep up their hopes of defending their Absa Premiership title.
There is still a long way to go in the race for the championship but Pirates can ill afford to keep dropping points at their present rate.
The match itself was a tame affair, with few goal scoring chances for either team. Stars looked the likelier scorers in the dying minutes and finally broke the deadlock in injury time through a free kick from Noah Chivuta.
The hosts could have opened the scoring in just the fourth minute, but full-back Rudiger Gilbert scooped his shot over the crossbar. Pirates also had early shots at goal through Andile Jali and Ruben Cloete, but both were comfortably handled by Stars ‘keeper Kennedy Mweene.
Midway through the first half Pirates created a good opportunity to open the scoring through midfielder Oupa Manyisa, but he put his headed effort over the target.
The remainder of the half saw both teams struggle to create further chances and it was no surprise that the half time score was 0-0.
Stars used up all three of their substitutions within the first 20 minutes of the second half, sending on Diego Brown, Noah Chivuta and Sename Wome in an effort to make something happen for them.
Pirates’ first substitution was injury-enforced, as goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs made way for Senzo Meyiwa. Ea Lla Koto tried to test the new goalie immediately but Gilbert’s long range shot flashed over the crossbar.
With just over ten minutes to play, Stars very nearly broke the deadlock, as Brown got a shot on target only to see it cleared away from danger by Bucs defender Happy Jele.
The hosts continued to look the likelier scorers as full time neared, with striker Boitumelo Sekgobela shooting just wide of the near post on 84 minutes.
In injury time Ea Lla Koto were finally rewarded for their persistence, with Chivuta scoring direct from a free kick to hand them a famous victory – their first over Pirates since 1998/99.
Free State Stars (0) 1 (Chivuta 90+3’)
Orlando Pirates 0
Stars: Mweene; Gilbert, Ouro-Akoriko, Mosikidi (Brown 58’), Gcaba; Coetzee (Wome 64’), Masehe, Moholo (Chivuta 62’), Gege, Mashego; Sekgobela
Pirates: Josephs (Meyiwa 66’); Jele, Lekgwathi, Sangweni, Cloete; Doutie, Manyisa, Jali, Bester; Mabena (Chansa 78’), McCarthy (Ndulula 71’)