Absa Premiership Report: Orlando Pirates 1-1 Bloemfontein Celtic
Posted: 5 March 2019
Orlando Pirates went to the top of the Absa Premiership table despite a 1-1 draw with Bloemfontein Celtic in a match at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night.
Bucs made two changes from their narrow win over Golden Arrows the last time out, with Abel Mabaso getting a rare start and Augustine Mulenga featuring in the starting team while Siwelele made wholesale changes from their goalless draw with Mamelodi Sundowns.
Phunya Sele Sele almost went ahead in the seventh minute with a powerful header by defender Mbhazima Rikhotso at the back post following a free-kick situation, but Pirates goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands was alert to make the save.
Milutin Sredojevic’s charges were threatening going forward in the early stages but they lacked the final ball in the last third and Celtic grew in the game towards the half-mark, being compact at the back and not allowing the hosts space behind the defence.
Rikhotso broke the deadlock for Siwelele eight minutes before the break with a close range finish after a scramble inside the six-yard box following a corner, 0-1.
Although Pirates were probing for the equaliser they could not reply in the closing stages of the half and went to the break trailing the visitors by an odd goal.
Lucky Baloyi should have doubled the lead for Lehlohonolo Seema’s troops seven minutes after the break, guiding his effort wide at the back post with the net gaping, following a teasing cross from Menzi Masuku.
Sredojevic made a double substitution on the hour-mark looking for fresh legs and numbers in attack as Luvuyo Memela came on for Mulenga while Thabo Qalinge replaced Mabaso.
Bucs were searching for the equaliser and were unable to penetrate the reinforced defence of Celtic. Thembinkosi Lorch finally went clear on the right side of the box with 15 minutes remaining following a quick counter-attack, but his strike at the near post was saved by Siwelele shot-stopper Patrick Tignyemb.
Memela levelled matters for the hosts ten minutes before time with a low strike towards the bottom corner from inside the box after pressure on the Celtic defence finally paid off, 1-1.
The Soweto giants had chances to snatch a late winner in the closing stages but they were not clinical enough and had to settle for a point.
Despite the draw Pirates climbed to the top of the table with 40 points - equal on points with Mamelodi Sundowns but with a better goal difference - against a robust Siwelele defence who also walk away with a point for their efforts and will remain in eighth place with 31 points.
Pirates: 30. Sandilands, 4. Jele, 21. Ndengane, 23. Maela, 44. Mabaso, 14. Nyatama, 45. Pule, 7. Mahachi, 3. Lorch, 12. Shonga, 17. Mulenga
Subs: 16. Mabokgwane, 36. Da Silva, 20. Mlambo, 38. Mahlonoko, 15. Qalinge, 11. Memela, 31. Gabuza
Celtic: 30. Tignyemb, 19. Sam, 38. Mahashe, 22. Rikhotso, 10. Mabena, 2. Tani, 12. Maema, 18. Mashikinya, 50. Masuku, 8. Phalane, 35. Baloyi
Subs: 34. Dambe, 17. Mabasa, 3. Pfumbidzai, 11. Potsane, 6. Kobedi, 4. Dlamini, 13. Letsoalo