Cape Town – Orlando Pirates closed to within a point of Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the ABSA Premiership table with a 2-1 win over Golden Arrows at the Princess Magogo Stadium in Durban.
After a scoreless first half, Thembinkosi Lorch fired the Buccaneers in front in the 49th minute, before Limbikani Mzava was wrongfully sent off for Arrows.
Mthokozisi Dube doubled Pirates’ advantage in the 71st minute, before Danny Venter pulled one back with six minutes remaining.
After a fairly bland opening with wayward shots from distance, the game bust to life in the 22nd minute when Pirates’ appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Thando Ndzandzeka.
The incident came when Dube appeared to be clipped in the box by Mzwandile Buthelezi following a low pass from the left by Justin Shonga.
Then came the best chance of the half in the 29th minute when Siphelele Magubane’s clever free-kick caught out the Pirates defence, but Venter failed to hit the target after the ball was teed up for him eight yards out.
At the other end, Luvuyo Memela’s sharp turn and shot was straight at Maximilian Mbaeva nine minutes before the break, and in stoppage time Lorch looped his header over the bar after an inviting cross from Dube on the left.
It took Bucs four minutes after the interval to break the deadlock as an error from the Arrows defence ended with the ball floated into the box for Musa Nyatama, whose deft touch allowed the ball to tantalizingly sit up for Lorch to blast home.
There was a massive moment in the game after 53 minutes when Buthelezi recklessly dived into a challenge on Memela, which caused anger on the Pirates bench and prompted an angry reaction all round.
Referee Ndzandzeka then cautioned the already yellow-carded Mzava and sent him off, instead of booking Buthelezi.
It was a costly blow for Arrows, who then fell further behind when Trevor Mathiane’s attempted clearance from Memela’s through-ball ricocheted off Dube and beyond a helpless Mbaeva.
Venter did pull a goal back when he blasted in from Lerato Lamola’s cut-back, but it came too late as Pirates held on for a precious win.