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Bidvest Wits v Orlando Pirates Match Report, 06/04/2019

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K. Ritchie (90+4 og)
BidVest Stadium
Bidvest Wits 0-1 Orlando Pirates: Bucs beat Clever Boys to go top of PSL standings
15:54 IST 06/04/2019
Cole Alexander, Bidvest Wits & Luvuyo Memela, Orlando Pirates, April 2019
The Buccaneers replaced the defending champions at the top of the league standings as the title race intensifies

Orlando Pirates climbed to the top of the Premier Soccer League (PSL) standings after securing a narrow 1-0 win over Bidvest Wits in an encounter which was played in Johannesburg. 

Gavin Hunt surprisingly dropped his first-choice goalkeeper Darren Keet and he replaced him with former South Africa under-23 international Ricardo Goss ahead of the top of the league clash.

Hunt's counterpart, Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic made one change to the team that faced Mamelodi Sundowns on Monday as Thamsanqa Gabuza replaced Thembinkosi Lorch, who was serving a one-match suspension.

The Clever Boys dominated the opening exchanges with in-former striker Gift Motupa keen to prove a point against his former club having netted against Chippa United in the Nedbank Cup last weekend.

The former Baroka FC attacker had a chance to hand the hosts the lead after being set-up by Thulani Hlatshwayo, but the former placed his header wide of the target.

Pirates grew in confidence as the match progressed with Ben Motshwari pulling the strings in midfield as he looked to spread forward passes against his former side.

The box-to-box midfielder was presented with an opportunity to score following a mistake by the Wits defence, but his shot was poor and he was denied by Goss.

The Buccaneers kept pushing for the opening goal with the half-time break approaching and the last chance of the first half fell for Gabuza.

The ball fell kindly for the experienced striker inside the Wits box, but he placed his effort wide of the target without troubling Goss in Wits goal.
The score was 0-0 at the interval following an evenly contested first half. 

Wits came into the match having netted 27.8% of their goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half in their league games this season and they piled pressure on Pirates during this period.

However, Hunt's men struggled to penetrate the Bucs defence which was marshalled by Happy Jele, who was partnered with Alfred Ndengane in central defence.

Gabuza was replaced by attacking midfielder Thabo Qalinge as the Buccaneers looked to regain control of the match and take the lead.

Wits did not sit back in the closing stages of the game as they pushed forward in numbers through the likes of Hlanti and Hatshwayo, who are goal-scoring defenders.

However, it was the visitors, who grabbed a late goal in stoppage time when Keegan Ritchie scored an own-goal from Memela's free-kick - handing Pirates a hard-fought 1-0 win.

The victory saw Bucs replace Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the league standings, while Wits remained third on the table.