Cape Town City 1-1 Orlando Pirates: Bucs survive late onslaught to claim point
Vincent Pule Thabo Nodada
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A victory would have propelled the Sea Robbers to within two points of leaders Mamelodi Sundowns - instead they are four points off the pace

In a close-fought league encounter, Cape Town City and Orlando Pirates played out a 1-1 draw at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday evening.

Although City ended the game the stronger team, on the balance of play, the draw was a fair reflection of an absorbing evening’s action in the Mother City.

It was from the first real chance of the game that the opening goal arrived, in the 13th minute, as Happy Jele came storming into the box to power in a header following a perfectly-flighted cross from Vincent Pule.

While it could be argued that goalkeeper Hugo Marques should have made the cross his, it was the pace and intensity of Jele’s run and jump which made the goal.

Despite the setback, City enjoyed some good periods of ball possession and did go on to fashion a couple of chances. But Thamsanqa Mkhize was unable to find the target with a back-post header from Terrence Mashego’s 30th-minute cross while Mduduzi Mdantsane was not far off from picking out the top corner with a curling effort from the edge of the big box.

Pirates also had a couple of chances to add to the scoreline but Terrence Dzvukamanja fired a tame half-volley at Marques and Bandile Shandu struck an angled drive from 20-yards out wide of the far post in the first-half added time.

The Sea Robbers’ failure to add a second goal came back to bite them eight minutes after the restart when Mdantsane beat Siyabonga Mpontshane from the penalty spot after debutant defender Olisa Ndah was struck by the ball on his arm inside his own box.

The Soweto side had a chance to reclaim the lead moments later when Fortune Makaringe pulled the trigger at the other end of the park, but he curled a low shot wide of the far post, following a swift counter-attack.

Tshegofatso Mabasa also had an opportunity for the visiting side in the 68th minute, but after bursting clear down the left wing his touch was a bit heavy and he was subsequently unable to get a meaningful shot away.

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It was City though who looked most likely to claim the win as they rallied hard in the closing stages of the game and Taariq Fielies was nearly the hero for the Cape side when he went close with an 89th-minute header from a corner.

There were also openings late on for Mashego, Khanyisa Mayo and Mpho Makola, who spurned a great chance to bury his former club when he curled a 94th-minute effort over the goal.

The draw leaves Pirates with nine points and City on six. Log leaders Sundowns (13 points) play Swallows FC on Sunday and will move seven points above Pirates if they beat the Birds.