Pirates narrowly beat Leopards

An early goal from Thulasizwe Mbuyane handed Orlando Pirates a 1-0 win over Black Leopards as the defending Absa Premiership champions started the second half of the season by collecting three points at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Apart from a bright opening 20 minutes or so, the Buccaneers were unimpressive and somewhat fortunate that the visitors didn’t have enough in attack to punish them for what was not the most convincing performance.

Pirates started the match strongly and could have opened the scoring as early as the fourth minute as Benni McCarthy set up Siyabonga Sangweni with a one-on-one chance against the goalkeeper, but the defender missed his attempted volley.

As it was, Bucs took the lead just three minutes later. Right-back Bheki Nzunga provided a great cross from the flank and Thulasizwe Mbuyane buried a bullet header into the top corner of the net. Posnett Omony got a hand on the effort but couldn’t keep it out.

On the quarter hour mark Pirates should have made it 2-0 as Lucky Lekgwathi had a free header from a corner kick, but the skipper completely mis-timed his effort and the ball bounced wide of the target, much to Lidoda Duvha’s relief.

As the half wore on Pirates lost their early sharpness and rhythm, allowing Leopards to come into the game a touch more, but apart from a half chance for Benedict Vilakazi – where the midfielder hesitated when presented with a shooting chance – the visitors hardly troubled Bucs’ backline.

Leopards made a double change early in the second half, sending on Humphrey Khoza and Rodney Ramagalela. The tactical shuffle certainly saw the Limpopo team up their game in attack, though they were unable to create any clear scoring chances.

Pirates continued to look disjointed in attack, though another good cross from Nzunga handed Mabena a scoring chance from which the forward placed a diving header on target only to see it smothered by Omony.

Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Mbuyane 7’)
Black Leopards 0

Pirates: Meyiwa; Nzunga, Mahamutsa, Sangweni, Lekgwathi, Mbuyane (Boa Morte 89’), Ntshumayelo, Jali, Klate, Mabena (Manqana 75’), McCarthy

Leopards: Omony; Kwena, Xakane, Mkhonza, Taaibos (Ramagalela 49’), Maake, Duiker, Mabunda (Monama 73’), Mapolisa, Vilakazi (Khoza 48’), Nkhatha