Matlaba and Makola came back to haunt their former team as Bucs beat Stars 2-0 in an Absa Premiership encounter played at Orlando Stadium on Saturday nightOrlando Pirates came into the encounter oozing with confidence after beating second placed Mamelodi Sundowns 1-0 in their previous Absa Premiership match, while Free State Stars were coming off a 2-1 league win over struggling Lamontville Golden Arrows.
The home team started the match very well testing the Stars goakeeper and winning a corner-kick. Pirates winger Khethokwakhe Masuku forced Stars keeper Tshepo Motsoeneng into producing a brilliant acrobatic save as early as the fifth minute.
Ea Ila Koto were playing on the counter in the early stages. Coach Themba Sithole's men tried to absorb pressure from Bucs attackers. But they were conceding a number of corner-kicks which were not utilized by the home team in the first 15 minutes.
A minute later, Motsoeneng was called into action once again when Bucs striker Helder Pelembe was given enough space to shoot in the box. The Mozambique international's attempt was saved by Motsoeneng with a diving save.
Interim coach Eric Tinkler's charges were controlling the match as they dominated ball possession. However, Bucs attackers found it difficult to beat keeper Motsoeneng who was having a great game. Former Free State Stars duo Mpho Makola and Thabo Matlaba could not convert their opportunities in the 41st minute and on the stroke of half time respectively.
However, three minutes into the second half, Bucs' pressure finally paid off, as Makola and Matlaba combined brilliantly inside the box before Matlaba beat keeper Motsoeneng with a calm finish to make it 1-0 to the home team.
Just seven minutes later, Makola made it 2-0 when the former Stars playmaker beat Motsoeneng with a low drive into the bottom corner, much to the delight of the Bucs fans.
The away team nearly pulled one back six minutes later, but Togolese striker Camaldine Abraw headed his attempt over the cross bar from 12 yards out.
In the 68th minute, Bucs winger Sifiso Myeni was just unfortunate when his powerful attempt from outside the Stars box was tipped over the cross bar by keeper Motsoeneng. The home team were piling pressure onto a helpless Stars defence.
Motsoeneng was tested yet again in the 73rd minute by Matlaba. The Bafana Bafana international unleashed a powerful long range effort which was well saved by the Stars keeper. Just four minutes later, Masuku's effort brushed the cross bar with the keeper rooted to the ground.
Stars were definitely nowhere to be seen while chasing shadows in the second half. Bucs keeper Senzo Meyiwa was having a quiet game as he was not troubled by the Stars attackers.
It finished 2-0 to Bucs and they moved to fifth on the Absa Premiership standings.