Pirates held 1-1 by Aces

2014-03-18 22:13

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Mpumalanga Black Aces continued their fine run of form, climbing to the top half of the Premiership table with a 1-1 draw against Orlando Pirates in Nelspruit.

While the hosts stretched their unbeaten run to four straight league games tonight, the Buccaneers, lying fourth ahead of the midweek fixtures, lost further ground in the race for the title.

Aces goalkeeper Jackson Mabokgwane kept his team in the match with two blinding saves in the early stages.

Mpho Makola put the first real pressure on the home side's defence in the 14th minute when he turned on a defender and struck a left-footed attempt from the edge of the area, but Mabokgwane tipped his thunderous effort over as it skimmed the top of the crossbar.

Two minutes later, Khethokwakhe Masuku took a close-range shot from an angle, but he was also denied by the Aces goalminder, who produced a diving save to his right to parry the ball away.

The hosts ran out of luck midway through the opening period when Luyanda Bacela charged down the right flank and slipped the ball across the face of goal, with Sifiso Myeni hitting the back of the net.

Aces continued to put up a fight, however, and they struck back shortly after the half-hour mark from a set-piece.

Thabo Qalinge managed to find a gap into the area and flicked the ball back to Zamuxolo Ngalo who slid in the equaliser.

Buoyed by the goal, Aces surged forward after the break, but they were wayward with their finishing, with Qalinge and Abia Nale both well off target.

Pirates also struggled with their accuracy up front, and Kermit Erasmus slipped a long-range shot wide to the left.

With 15 minutes remaining, Erasmus had a much better attempt, and this time was on target from 20 metres out, but Mabokgwane again came to the rescue of the home team, punching the ball to safety.

The Buccaneers had their final chance to grab a crucial three points in the dying stages, but Ayanda Gcaba's powerful header was cleared off the line by Sandile Zuke.

In other results tonight, Moroka Swallows finally ended their eight-game winless streak with a 1-0 win over bottom-of-the-log Golden Arrows, while Mamelodi Sundowns beat Free State Stars 2-1.

The win moved The Brazilians to within three points of The Amakhosi, but they have played one extra game and have some way to go before putting the heat on the defending champions.

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