A solitary goal from Gabadinho Mhango ensured Orlando Pirates finished the 2019/20 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season with a win as they beat Stellenbosch 1-0 on Saturday afternoon at Ellis Park Stadium.
The Ghosts’ goal came through the Malawi international as he netted on the stroke of half-time from close range.
In the wake of the win, Pirates finished in the third spot with 52 points and have qualified for next season's Caf Confederation Cup, whilst coach Steve Barker’s troop finished 10th with 36 points.
The Buccaneers were in high spirits coming from two consecutive wins over SuperSport United and Maritzburg United whilst Barker’s men drew against Chippa United and AmaZulu.
Pirates were looking avenge the 1-0 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture as they hosted Stellies at Ellis Park Stadium but started the game slowly.
The hosts were nearly caught out in the second minute when Ashley Du Preez closed the space for Ben Motswhari, forcing him to go back, and his pass fell in Leletu Skelem’s path but Wayne Sandilands was quick to read the situation and blocked the danger.
Aiming to get an early goal, Mhango was denied by goalkeeper Lee Langeveldt, who produced a superb save from close range in the 18th minute after some good combination play in the box.
On the stroke of half-time, the joint PSL leading top goalscorer managed to rattle the net with a tidy finish after the Cape Winelands side failed to deal with a cross from the left flank, making it 1-0 at the interval.
Upon their return from the tunnel, Pirates continued where they left off and James Monyane delivered a pinpoint pass across the goal to Thembinkosi Lorch in the centre of the box, but last season's player of the year failed to hit the target as his shot went over the crossbar in the 52nd minute.
Towards the last 20 minutes, the Soweto giants showed some improvement after the cooling break and Monyane had the better of Marc Van Heerden on the right-wing, but the veteran defender showed his experience to cut out the cross.
With 12 minutes remaining on the clock, Du Preez found his way into the box between Happy Jele and Innocent Maela, but the Stellies skipper opted to dive and didn’t get a penalty and was booked.
In the end, coach Josef Zinnbauer's men managed to hold on to their slender lead and walked away with the full three points to earn a continental berth next season.