Free State Stars 1-1 Orlando Pirates: Bucs’ ship continues to sink

Pirates woes continued after a 1-1 draw against Free State Stars at the Charles Mopeli Stadium on Wednesday night

Orlando Pirates started off well and attacked their opponents from the first whistle, but never troubled Free State Stars keeper Kennedy Mweene who returned to the starting eleven for the first time in four games.

Takesure Chinyama tried his luck from Happy Jele’s cross in the 8th minute, but his shot went wide. Pirates defender Patrick Phungwayo pushed forward in the 10th minute and blasted his shot over the bar from inside the area.

The visitors wanted to break the Stars defence earlier on, but Mweene proved too strong for Pirates attackers and he did well to cut Onyekachi Okonkwo’s cross from the right.

Free State Stars then started passing the ball around and used Luyolo Nomandela’s pace to trouble the Pirates defence, and they won their first corner of the match that Sihle Mpuqa headed over the bar in the 20th minute.

Okonkwo nearly gave Pirates a breakthrough with a well struck shot in the 28th minute, but he failed to hit the target. Mpho Makola should have done better against his former club on the half-hour mark, but he shot wide after a well played lob from Okonkwo.

Stars then took the lead two minutes later through Paulus Masehe who made no mistake from inside the penalty area, after the Pirates defence failed to deal with Danny Venter’s corner.

Pirates then got a chance to equalize a few moments later from a free-kick, but Dane Klate’s effort could not get past the Stars’ wall.

Nomandela should have doubled the lead in the 45th minute after some brilliant piece of work from Reuben Thebakang, but the speedy winger made a heavy touch on the ball and Senzo Meyiwa rushed off his line to rescue the Buccaneers, as it remained 1-0 to the home side at half-time.

Pirates got off to a brighter start in the second half and Klate nearly scored with a brilliant shot within the first few minutes, but Mweene dived to his left to make a fine save.

The visitors continued to put Steve Komphela’s men under pressure, but it was Stars who nearly doubled the lead in the 53rd minute, Moeketsi Mvula forced a good save out of Meyiwa although the referee gave it a goal-kick to Meyiwa.

Thebakang nearly made it 2-0 to the hosts after well played cross from substitute Dove Wome with 20 minutes remaining. Pirates immediately lodged an attack, but Ndumiso Mabena’s poorly taken shot went wide.

Pirates then got a lifeline in the 78th minute when referee Victor Gomes adjudge Sihle Mpuqa to have handled the ball inside the box, the referee didn’t hesitate and pointed to the spot. Collins Mbesuma, in for Chinyama, then slotted home to make 1-1.

Mbesuma should have doubled the lead in the 83rd minute after a beautiful cross from Makola, but the Zambian striker headed wide.

Mvula should have restored the Stars’ lead a minute later, but the Stars’ man wasted a glorious chance to break the hearts of the Pirates fans.

Wome’s free-kick nearly caught Meyiwa off-guard, but the ball hit the wrong side of the net with only a few minutes to go. Both teams never looked like scoring, as the match ended 1-1 after 90 minutes.