Orlando Pirates extended their winless run to four matches in the Premier Soccer League when they drew 1-1 with Royal AM at Orlando Stadium on Thursday evening.
Levy Mashiane opened the scoring to hand Thwihli Thwahla the lead after a defensive mistake by the Soweto giants, but Linda Mntambo levelled matters for the Buccaneers after another error at the back.
Tshegofatso Mabasa surprisingly started for Pirates despite the club having announced that he had picked up an injury after the Soweto giants' 1-0 win over Congo-Brazzaville side Diable Noirs on Sunday and he was joined by Terrence Dzvukamanja in attack.
Olisa Ndah was recalled to the starting line-up as Bucs looked to stop the in-form Victor Letsoalo, who came into this encounter having scored in five consecutive matches for Royal AM which sees him at the top of the league's scoring charts with six goals.
Royal AM came into this encounter undefeated in their last five matches in the league including an impressive 4-1 win over Pirates' archrivals Kaizer Chiefs. The PSL newcomers were looking to upset another Soweto giant in their own backyard.
Pirates should have been 1-0 up within the first three minutes of the game after Fortune Makaringe played a through pass for Mabasa, who somehow fired wide of the target with only goalkeeper Hugo Nyame to beat, much to the dismay of the Bucs technical team.
Thwihli Thwahla were looking to use speed in attack to unsettle the Bucs defence with Kabelo Mahlasela outpacing three of his markers, before playing a cross for Levy Mashiane, who headed the ball wide of the target, but the latter made amends by breaking the deadlock in the 32nd minute.
Letsoalo poked the ball into Mashiane's path inside the hosts' box and the 25-year-old attacker scored with a simple tap in to hand Royal AM a 1-0 lead following a miscommunication between Pirates captain Happy Jele and goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane at the back.
It was a first-half full of defensive mistakes as Tshidiso Monamodi gave away possession near the right touchline and Mntambo pounced and scored with a wonderful long-range shot which beat Nyame on the stroke of half-time to make it 1-1.
Pirates' co-interim head coaches Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi were forced to make a change after Jele picked up an injury after being fouled by Letsoalo and the veteran central defender was replaced by Thulani Hlatshwayo just seven minutes into the second half.
The Buccaneers continued to launch attacks and they had a great chance to take the lead for the first time after some good work by Bandile Shandu, who then played a low cross for Mabasa, but the Bafana Bafana striker's attempted backheel shot was blocked by Nyame.
Letsoalo was lively in the latter stages of the game as he looked to continue his scoring run and he had a chance to snatch a late winning goal for Royal AM, but he was bravely denied by Mpontshane in stoppage time, and ultimately, the game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Therefore, Pirates remained seventh on the standings and they will now face Sekhukhune United on November 2, while Royal AM, who are scheduled to host SuperSport United next week Tuesday, moved up to fourth place on the log.