Maritzburg United 0-1 Orlando Pirates: Mhango's late strike keeps Bucs' PSL top three hopes alive
Frank Mhango of Orlando Pirates, February 2020
The PSL top scorer's solitary goal handed the Buccaneers a narrow win as they remain in the hunt for the top three

Orlando Pirates boosted their ambitions of qualifying for next season's Caf Confederation Cup by defeating Maritzburg United 1-0 in a PSL match which was played on Wednesday night.

Substitute Frank Mhango was the hero as he came off the bench to fire past Richard Ofori in the 91st minute to put his poor recent run of form behind him.

The Team of Choice were desperate for a win which would have ended their five-match winless run in the league and cement their spot in the top eight. 

As expected, Thabiso Kutumela spearheaded Maritzburg's attack in the absence of Judas Moseamedi as coach Eric Tinkler looked to mastermind a win over his former side.

On the other hand, Bucs had to win the match in order to keep their hopes of finishing in the top three alive following their victory over SuperSport United which ended their six-match winless run in the league.

Lerato Lepasa was rewarded with a starting berth by coach Josef Zinnbauer after scoring the winning goal against SuperSport, while Siphesihle Ndlovu and Fortune Makaringe were facing their former club.

The two teams struggled to create good goalscoring opportunities in the opening stages of the encounter as they gave away possession cheaply in the final third.

Pirates improved after the cooling break with Thembinkosi Lorch looking to use his pace and dribbling skills to unlock the hosts' defence.

The Bafana Bafana international had an opportunity to break the deadlock towards the half-time break after beating his mark down the left-hand side.

However, Ofori was alert in the Maritzburg goal-posts as the Ghana international produced a fantastic low save to deny Lorch heading into the half-time break with the two teams locked at 0-0.

Lorch continued to cause havoc for the Team of Choice defence after the restart and he found himself in good positions in the hosts' box.

The ball fell kindly for the former Chippa United winger in the box after Maritzburg had failed to clear their lines, but once again he was denied by Ofori with a diving save.

Wayne Sandilands, who was having a quiet game in the Pirates goal-posts, was finally tested by Bongokuhle Hlongwane following a rare attack by the home side.

However, the 2011/12 PSL Goalkeeper of the Season pulled off a brilliant save to deny the 20-year-old striker and Zinnbauer reacted by making changes. 

The German coach introduced attackers Tshegofatso Mabasa, Kabelo Dlamini and Mhango and the trio changed the complexion of the game. 

Pirates piled pressure on the hosts and they managed to snatch a late winning goal through Mhango, who proved to be a super-sub when he netted in the last minute of the match.

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The speedy striker turned his marker before unleashing a powerful left-footed shot which beat Ofori to seal Pirates' 1-0 win over Maritzburg - ending his eight-match goal drought in the process.

The victory took the Buccaneers to fourth spot on the league standings - a point behind third-placed SuperSport United.

The Team of Choice remain sixth on the log ahead of Saturday's final round of the 2019/20 PSL season.