Orlando Pirates 4-1 Maritzburg United: Lorch shines as Bucs keep Caf Champions League dream alive
Daylon Classon, Maritzburg United, Thembinkosi Lorch & Goodman Mosele, Orlando Pirates, May 2022
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The Bloemfontein-born attacker was in his element on the night as he grabbed three assists against the Team of Choice

Orlando Pirates produced a dominant performance against Maritzburg United as they claimed a 4-1 win in a Premier Soccer League match which was played at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night.

Goals from Thembinkosi Lorch, Kwame Peprah, Deon Hotto and Kabelo Dlamini propelled the Buccaneers to their 10th league win of the season while Friday Samu netted the Team of Choice's consolation goal. Lorch walked away with the Man of the Match accolade after opening the scoring, before providing three assists on the night as he continued his scintillating form. 

Co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids named an unchanged team with Hotto being given a chance to redeem himself after he endured a disappointing game during Pirates' Caf Confederation Cup final defeat to RS Berkane last week Friday. Pirates had to snap their three-match winless run in the PSL in order to keep their hopes of qualifying for next season's Caf Champions League alive.

Despite having already retained their status in the PSL after securing a narrow 1-0 victory over Baroka FC on Saturday, Maritzburg's coach Ernst Middendorp named a strong starting line-up. The former Kaizer Chiefs mentor made one change to the team which faced Baroka as Riyaaz Ismail was recalled to the starting line-up - replacing Nazier Allie. 

Lorch continued from where he had left off against Berkane when he was named Man of the Match after scoring a late equalising goal late in extra-time. The 28-year-old attacker was sent through on goal, but goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt came out to deny the man nicknamed Nyoso from close range after a good move by the Buccaneers.

Engelhardt was then beaten by Nyoso who collected the ball up from just outside the visitors' box, before picking his spot with a well-weighted shot, only to be denied by the upright. The German shot-stopper then reacted quickly and snatched the ball from the round before Peprah could poke it home and end his six-match goal drought across all competitions.

However, Lorch kept making incisive runs which were unsettling the Team of Choice's defence and he wasn't to be denied in the 21st minute. Hotto, who has been the Soweto giants' chief orchestrator this term, set up Lorch and the 2018-19 PSL Players' Player of the Season fired past Engelhardt to hand Pirates a 1-0 lead as he opened his scoring account for the current season. 

Hotto's delivery from wide areas was top notch and he nearly grabbed his 10th assist of the season across all competitions when his well-taken cross was headed onto the upright by Happy Jele and the visitors cleared their lines. Pirates were leading 2-0 at half-time after Nyoso's cut-back pass found Peprah who beat Engelhardt with a first time shot in the 42nd minute.

The Team of Choice were bombarded with crosses after the restart as the Buccaneers looked to extend their lead and Engelhardt dealt well with curling efforts from Hotto and Dlamini. However, Engelhardt was beaten for the third time on the night when Lorch's sublime cross found Hotto who hit the back of the net from close range to make it 3-0 to Pirates in the 60th minute.

However, the hosts went to sleep at the back and they were punished by Friday Samu. The strongly built centre forward turned home a low cross from Brandon Theron to make it 3-1 in the 63rd minute after the Buccaneers' defence was caught ball watching inside their own box and it was the Zambia international's fourth goal in his last seven league matches. 

Lorch continued to cause havoc for the Maritzburg defence and he was involved when the Soweto giants restored their three-goal lead. The former Chippa United winger played a backheel pass to Dlamini who picked his spot and fired past a hapless Engelhaldt to make it 4-1 to Pirates in the 69th minute as Nyoso grabbed his third assist of the night.

Ncikazi and Davids then refreshed their attack - introducing Tshegofatso Mabasa and the Bafana Bafana international became an immediate threat to the Team of Choice's backline with his sharp movement in the closing stages of the game. Mabasa ran on to Goodman Mosele's long ball, but he was fantastically denied from point-blank range by Engelhardt and Pirates emerged as 4-1 winners on the night

The win elevated Pirates to the sixth spot on the league standings - six points behind second-placed Cape Town City who have already ended their campaign. Bucs, who have two games left, will finish second on the log and qualify for next season's Caf Champions League if they defeat Royal AM on Friday and SuperSport United on Monday. Maritzburg finished the season in the 12th spot after losing to Bucs.