Highlands Park 2-2 Orlando Pirates: Bucs fail to close gap atop PSL standings
Sphiwe Mahlangu and Peter Shalulile netted for the Lions of the North, while Bucs scored through Thembinkosi Lorch and Kudakwashe Mahachi

Highlands Park and Orlando Pirates played out to a 2-2 draw in a PSL match which was played in Tembisa on Saturday night.

The Lions of the North were looking to extend their unbeaten run to five matches in the league having drawn 1-1 with SuperSport United at home in their previous game.

Owen Da Gama made four changes to the starting line-up that faced Matsatsantsa with Zimbabwean striker Tendai Ndoro facing his former employers.

The Buccaneers, who had qualified for the Caf Champions League group stage, were undefeated in their last 11 league matches having thrashed Free State Stars 3-1 away in their last game.

Da Gama's counterpart, Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic made two changes to the team that faced Ea Lla Koto with Musa Nyatama and Xola Mlambo returning to the starting line-up.

Pirates were hoping to secure their first win over Highlands Park in the PSL era having recorded four draws against the reigning National First Division (NFD) champions.

The Lions of the North, who were defeated against the PSL's big three, Mamelodi Sundowns, Kaizer Chiefs and Pirates this season, were missing their talisman Mothobi Mvala.

Proven striker Ndoro, filled the void left by the suspended Mvala - the current top goalscorer in the league with seven goals.

Ndoro had a great chance to hand the hosts the lead after Highlands Park had contained the four-time PSL champions in the opening stages of the game.

The former Ajax Cape Town striker pounced on a cross from the left, but Pirates goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane made a superb save to deny Ndoro from close range.

The Bucs defence which was missing suspended defender Marshall Munetsi was looking shaky and they nearly conceded when Sphiwe Mahlangu's first-time shot was brilliantly saved by Mpontshane.

At the other end, Pirates were struggling to create chances as the Highlands Park defence which was led by no-nonsense defender Spiwe Msimango looked impenetrable.

Highlands Park and Pirates were locked 0-0 at the interval following a lively first half.

The visitors dominated the opening stages of the second half - creating chances following their half-time team talk with Sredojevic.

Innocent Maela hit the crossbar with a deflected cross, then Justin Shonga's low shot was parried away by Highlands Park keeper Marlon Heugh as Pirates piled pressure on the hosts.

Bucs were left to rue those chances as Highlands Park took the lead against the run of play when Ndoro set-up Mahlangu, who beat Mpontshane to make it 1-0 to the home side in the 58th minute.

However, the lead only lasted for a minute as Augustine Mulenga combined with Lorch, who then fired past Heugh to make it 1-1 much to the delight for away crowd.

It was end-to-end stuff and the Pirates defence was exposed when Mlambo failed to clear the ball away and Peter Shalulile scored from close range to make it 2-1 to Highlands Park.

It was not surprising that the Lions of the North had scored just after the hour-mark as they have scored majority of their goals between the 60th minute and 75th minute of the game this season.

Meanwhile, Micho reacted by introducing Kudakwashe Mahachi, who was yet to make his mark at Pirates since joining the club from Mamelodi Sundowns prior to the start of the current season.

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The Zimbabwean winger proved to be an inspired substitution as he scored to make it 2-2 after Heugh had failed to handle Happy Jele's cross.

Pirates then pushed for a late winning goal, but Highlands Park stood firm at the back and ultimately, the entertaining match ended in a 2-2 stalemate.

The draw saw Bucs remain second on the league standings - five points behind log leaders Bidvest Wits, while the Lions of the North also remained eighth on the table.

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