Orlando Pirates would definitely consider themselves in the title race after a 1-0 win over Bidvest Wits at the Mbombela Stadium on Saturday night
With Benni McCarthy back in the starting line-up for the Buccaneers, Orlando Pirates fans were hoping for more goals and most certainly three points against Bidvest Wits.
However, both teams were very cautious in their attacks and the goalkeepers were not tested until after the 11th minute when Rudolph Bester had his penalty appeal turned down.
On 16 minutes Wits captain Sibusiso Vilakazi had a real chance to put his team in front from a well played cross, but his shot lacked accuracy and power as it went wide of Senzo Meyiwa’s goal.
Pirates then got back into the game and it was none other than Onyekachi Okonkwo who made those clever passes going forward and with McCarthy isolated by two Wits defenders, the Nigerian international took the responsibility, but his deflected shot was easily saved by Emille Baron.
Just after the half-hour mark, Tlou Segolela unleashed a shot with his left foot from the right hand side, but it sailed inches wide although Baron seemed to have positioned himself well.
The hosts nearly took the lead in the 36th minute when Papy Fatty’s shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly parried by Meyiwa for a corner.
McCarthy seemed to be winning most of aerial balls and he nearly opened the scoring in the 40th minute when he out-jumped the Wits defence from Segolela’s corner, but his effort went wide.
Bryce Moon should have put his side ahead on the stroke of halftime, but Meyiwa made himself big and blocked for a corner, as both teams could not find the back of the net in the first 45 minutes.
Bidvest Wits continued where they left off in the first half and nearly capitalized on the lack of communication from the Pirates defence in the opening minutes when Meyiwa failed to punch the cross away, but Jele recovered well in time.
Thomas Sweswe should have scored the opener from Ryan Chapman’s corner in the 57th minute, but the Zimbabwean’s effort flew over the crossbar with Meyiwa off his line.
Meyiwa was again fantastic between the sticks when he was called to action by Chapman, but the Umlazi-born stopper stood his ground to deny Wits an opener.
Pirates looked vulnerable at the back, but Wits couldn’t exploit their weaknesses as most of their shots went straight to Meyiwa.
The visitors were terrible in front of goal and even substitute Sifiso Myeni could not hand his team all three points against his former club.
Pirates should have been given a penalty in the dying minutes of the game after Ndumiso Mabena was brought down by Baron, but the referee felt the Wits keeper did nothing wrong and he booked Mabena for simulation.
However, there was still time for Sifiso Myeni to score the winner with the last kick of the game, as the Buccaneers returned to winning ways.