Absa Premiership match report Orlando Pirates v Free State Stars 13 April 2019
Posted: 13 April 2019 Time: 18:36
Orlando Pirates moved six points clear at the top of the Absa Premiership standings with a 2-1 victory over Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium on Saturday.
Pirates started with impressive intensity, with Stars being pinned back in to their own half but doing well to repel the danger. Relebogile Mokhuoane had the first shot on goal with a long-range effort that was saved by Wayne Sandilands.
Although the Sea Robbers were bossing the game, it was Stars who were having the attempts on goal, with Makhehleni Makhaula testing Sandilands from long-range in the 20th minute.
Both sides were struggling to create clear-cut opportunities with the game mainly being contested in midfield. Stars coach Nikola Kavazovic appeared to be winning the tactical duel with his Serbian counterpart Milutin Sredojevic, allowing the league leaders to have possession in their own half and getting plenty of numbers behind the ball.
Luvuyo Memela played a neat one-two with Thembinkosi Lorch and almost got in behind the Stars defence but was denied by a last-ditch intervention from Sifiso Mbhele in the 39th minute.
On the stroke of half-time, Mthokozisi Dube whipped in an excellent cross to the back post destined for Ben Morshwari but Nyiko Mobbie did brilliantly to get in between the man and ball and head the ball to safety.
Less than two minutes in to the second half, Stars gave away a penalty when former Pirates defender Rooi Mahamutsa brought down Memela in the box. Musa Nyatama expertly dispatched the spot-kick in to the bottom right-hand corner, leaving Samkelo Mbambo with no chance.
The Buccanneers doubled their lead in the 55th minute. Innocent Maela cut in from the left flank, weaved his way past a couple of defenders and played a one-two with Justin Shonga before trying to chip Mbambo. The ball richocheted off the Stars keeper to Shonga, who headed home the rebound for the hosts' second.
Some sloppy defending from the visitors gifted Lorch possession and he drew the last defender before playing in Shonga, who squared the ball back across goal but it was intercepted at the last moment.
Soon after, Sibusiso Hlubi whipped in a corner that was well met by the head of Simisani Mathumo, but his effort was straight at Sandilands.
In the 70th minute, substiute Vincent Pule missed a golden opportunity to put the result beyond doubt. Memela cut in brilliantly from the left all away across the box and laid it off to Pule, who only had the keeper to beat but sent his effort inches wide of the right-hand upright.
Harris Tchilimbou came close for the visitors when he latched on to Mobbie's cross but his header went narrowly wide of the right-hand post. Eleazar Rodgers gave Stars a glimmer of hope, pulling a goal back in the 82nd minute with an excellent header.
But Pirates would hold on for a nervy final ten minutes and secure the crucial three points.
Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Munetsi, Maela, Dube, Motshwari, Nyatama, Lorch, Memela, Shonga, Mulenga.
Subs: Mabokgwane, Pule, Mabaso, Chabalala, Gabuza, Qalinge, Makola,
Stars: Mbambo, Masehe, Mobbie, Mbhele, Mahamutsa, Mathumo, Tchilimbou, Makhaula, Kizza, Rodgers, Makhouane.
Subs: Sangare, Phungwayo, Jappie, Dlamini, Khabane, Masina, Hlubi.