Pirates snatch late win over Maritzburg

2014-04-15 21:51

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Second-half replacement Helder Pelembe scored four minutes from the end to snatch a 1-0 Premiership victory for Orlando Pirates over visiting Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium.

With the prospect of a third successive Premiership tie without scoring, Pelembe netted the winner to help Pirates limp over the finish-line, climbing three places to fourth in the league standings.

Pirates suffered consecutive defeats to Mpumalanga Black Aces and SuperSport United before today's victory, failing to score in both outings, which resulted in a dangerous slide down the table as the season nears its conclusion.

A bright start for the hosts saw a rare attempt at goal from defender Rooi Mahamutsa, who was thwarted by goalkeeper Shu-Aib Walters, before Sifiso Myeni went wide inside the opening 10 minutes.

Happy Jele watched as his headed effort was cleared off the line shortly after, while Oupa Manyisa and Mpho Makola also tried their luck from a distance.

Despite dominating possession and enjoying the lion's share of opportunities at goal, Pirates were unable to find the spark they required to break the deadlock and at times seemed to lack the type of urgency that was required to take the lead.

The Buccaneers were in with an early chance after the half-time break, as Thamsanqa Gabuza was let in behind the Maritzburg defence, after defender Mohammed Awal failed to clear, but the Pirates striker sent his shot straight at the goalkeeper, who made a simple stop.

United, whose attackers had been largely anonymous for much of the game until that point, had a double chance in the space of two minutes as Orlando Smeekes and Heinrich Isaacks forced goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa into a pair of superb saves shortly before the hour mark.

There would be more frustration for the Sea Robbers, who lost their rhythm and found the going tough in front of goal, where wayward shots and wasted opportunities were in abundance, while any notable highlights and goal-mouth action notably absent.

With the clock winding down and the threat of a goalless draw beckoning, Pelembe popped up in the area in the 87th minute and rounded off a superb delivery from Gabuza, to all but secure a smash-and-grab victory for the former champions.

With three points in the bag, Pirates moved to 40 points for the campaign, level with SuperSport and Aces, but lead the pair due to a superior goal-difference.

Meanwhile, Ajax Cape Town ended a winless run of six games when they beat SuperSport United 2-0 at the Cape Town Stadium today.

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