Orlando Pirates 1-1 Highlands Park: Bucs open new campaign with a draw against stubborn Lions of the North
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Gladwin Shitolo netted an own goal to hand the Lions of the North the lead, but Justin Shonga levelled matters for the Buccaneers

Orlando Pirates and Highlands Park drew 1-1 in a PSL match which was played in Johannesburg on Saturday night.

The Buccaneers were looking to open their 2018/19 season with a victory over the Lions of the North at their iconic home ground, Orlando Stadoum.

Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic named two new signings, Paseka Mako and Vincent Pule, who joines Bucs from Chippa United, and Bidvest Wits respectively, in his starting line-up.

Meanwhile, Highlands Park were hoping to stun the Soweto giants on their return to South Africa's elite league having won last season's National First Division (NFD) title.

Pirates dominated the opening stages of the game as they looked to grab an early goal which would have unsettled the Highlands Park defence.

Former African Warriors winger Pule was looking lively for the hosts, but the Lions of the North's defence looked solid and organised.

Highlands Park took a surprise lead in the 14th minute following a bad mistake by Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, who was preferred ahead of Siyabonga Mpontshane and Jackson Mabokgwane.

The 34-year-old shot-stopper failed to deal with a back pass from Gladwin Shitolo, who scored an own goal to make it 1-0 to the away side.

The Buccaneers then took over full control of the match with the Lions of the North happy to sit back and launch quick counter attacks.

Highlands Park goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini had come off his goal line to deny Pirates striker Augustine Mulenga as the hosts pushed for the equalizing goal.

The visitors' defence which was marshalled by Bevan Fransman worked tirelessly and Bucs were forced to try their luck from range with the half-time break fast approaching. 

Former South Africa under-23 international Mako, who was looking to make an impression on debut, tried his luck from range, but his effort missed Kapini's goal-posts.

Pirates were unfortunate not to level matters when Pule unleashed a powerful effort from a free-kick which beat Kapini, but the crossbar came to Highlands Park's rescue.

Highlands Park then stood firm at the back in the closing stages of the first half and they were leading 1-0 at the interval.

The hosts piled pressure on the Highlands defence after the restart and they introduced Justin Shonga, who was one of Pirates' best players last season.

Bucs were then awarded a penalty after new Highlands Park defender Lesenya Ramoraka had fouled Zambia international Augustine Mulenga in the visitors' box.

Mulenga's countryman Shonga then stepped up and fired past Zimbabwean shots-stopper Kapini to make it 1-1 much to the delight of the home crowd.

Micho's men did not sit back after restoring parity as they pressed the Lions of the North back line which was led by the experienced Bevan Fransman.

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Mulenga tried to put his name on the score sheet, but Kapini produced a fine low save to deny the hard-working forward in the closing stages of the encounter. 

It was Kapini versus Mulenga in the dying minutes of the game as the latter saw his powerful long-range shot well-saved by the experienced goal-minder.

Nevertheless, the game ended in a 1-1 draw after Highlands Park had contained Pirates in the latter stages of the game.
 

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