Matlaba and Makola inspires Bucs to victory
Orlando Pirates moved one place up on the log after beating struggling Free State Stars 2-0 in the Absa Premiership match at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.
Two second-half goals from Thabo Matlaba and Mpho Makola sent the Buccaneers 5th on the log with 30 points from 17 matches, while Ea Lla Koto woes continues as they remain second from bottom with 16 points from 18 matches.
Orlando Pirates started brightly, and they almost opened the scoring when Khethokwakhe Masuku had a go from range but Tshepo Motshoeneng made a flying save to concede a corner barely 5 minutes into the match.
The home side continued to pile pressure on Free State Stars, and they came close to opening the scoring again when Lucky Lekgwathi volleyed wide of the mark from the corner-kick with twelve minutes gone. Then six minutes later Helder Pelembe had a stinging shot from the edge of the area well saved by Motshoeneng with Sadate Ouro-Akoriko clearing the danger from the rebound.
It proved to be a one-way traffic as the visitors were nowhere in game midway through the first-half, with Orlando Pirates threatening again when Helder Pelembe unleashed a right footed shot from range, only for the Mozambican to see his low drive go just wide of the goal after 22 minutes.
Four minutes later Khethokwakhe Masuku tried his luck from range again but his shot from just outside the area went whisker wide of the mark, it was another let-off for the visiting side. Orlando Pirates won a free-kick from 20-yards out after Helder Pelembe was fouled in the hour mark, but Mpho Makula failed to punish his former side as he could only hit his shot against the Free State Stars wall from the set-piece.
They were no clear-cut chances going to the half-time break and both teams went to the dressing rooms locked at 0-0, with Free State Stars coach Themba Sithole having much to talk in half-time team talk as his side never troubled goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa in the entire first 45 minutes.
The visiting side made a change before the restart bringing on Togolese striker Camaldine Abraw in the place of Richard Henyekane looking to inject life in their attack. But it was Orlando Pirates who continued from where they left off in the opening stanza and they were one up with just three minutes into the second-half.
Mpho Makola’s through pass from the edge of the area sent Thabo Matlaba clear on goal and the defender made no mistake and shot past advancing Tshepo Motshoeneng and into the bottom corner to put the host ahead, 1-0.
The Buccaneers looked to have gained the confidence from their first goal as they scored the second when Mpho Makola became the goal scorer after assisting the first goal. The attacking midfielder connected with a long ball from Sifiso Myeni before firing past Tshepo Motshoeneng to score against his former side in the 55th minute, 2-0.
Two minutes later Sifiso Myeni should have scored the third but volleyed over the bar unmarked the far post before forcing Tshepo Motshoeneng into a save with a low first-time shot from outside the area in the 68th minute as the home side pilled pressure on the visitors.
Five minutes later Thabo Matlaba was found just outside the area by Khethokwakhe Masuku, and the attacking full-back, who has already scored in the match, palmed the hands of Tshepo Motshoeneng with a stinging shot. Then Khethokwakhe Masuku saw his shot from range hit the crossbar on its way over with twelve minutes left to play, the impressive winger was unlucky as the visiting keeper was beaten.
Free State Stars had a chance to score a consolation goal in the stoppage time when Danny Venter made a run on the right before passing Camaldine Abraw who shot wide of the mark from close range as the match ended 2-2 in the favour of Orlando Pirates.
In the other Absa Premiership matches played on Saturday, Mamelodi Sundowns title hopes were dented by the in-form Bidvest Wits who beat them 3-1 at home to go level on points with 34 points. Sundowns remain second and nine points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs while Bidvest Wits moved to third.
University of Pretoria moved further away from the relegation zone after beating relegation-threatened Golden Arrows 4-2 away from home. AmaTuks are now 11th on the log with 23 points from 20 matches, while Arrows remain rooted at the bottom with 13 points with 11 matches to play.
Follow me on twitter @wright9217