Pirates still not in top four

By Drum Digital
01 May 2014

Orlando Pirates held to a goalless draw by Bidvest Wits.

Orlando Pirates' frustrating Premiership campaign continued on Wednesday, as they were held to a goalless draw by Bidvest Wits in Johannesburg, as the Soweto outfit once again failed to break into the top four.

A wasteful effort from the Sea Robbers saw them extend their winless run to three successive outings, hindering their attempts at securing a top four position, with their games in hand now all but dried up, as the season draws to a close.

Despite being assured of third place this season and with a crucial Nedbank Cup semi-final over the weekend, Gavin Hunt resisted the temptation to give his squad a well-earned rest, instead naming a full-strength side, with Sibusiso Vilakazi the only notable omission.

Pirates went about stamping their authority over Wits early on, forcing veteran goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs into early saves from Kermit Erasmus and Daine Klate, before Lennox Bacela came closest on 17 minutes, his effort rising after a solid contact, but drifted narrowly over the crossbar at the crucial moment.

At the other end, Wits were finding possession hard to come by and had to rely on a few opportunistic efforts from way out, Jabu Shongwe going nearest in the 21st minute, denied a stunning long-range effort by the glove of Senzo Meyiwa, who tipped over for a corner.

Hunt's gamble backfired 24 minutes in when Papy Faty was involved in a heavy collision in the middle of the park, sending the Burundi international straight to ground and was substituted seconds later in what looked like a season-ending injury, forcing an early change as Letladi Madubanya came on midway through the opening half.

Amos Ngcobo then went close from the resulting free-kick, ghosting past the Pirates defence before getting a shot away on target, only for Meyiwa to make another good stop at his toes.

The home side were well and truly back in the game after the 37th minute when Shongwe's header caused problems in the area, signalling a shift in focus as the game swung in favour of Wits, who were driving forward more often.

Pirates replied just before the interval, but Erasmus' drilled cross from the left missed his man in the middle, with a scurried clearance from Sboniso Gumede coming to the rescue for the hosts.

Faty was wheeled away after half-time, his leg heavily braced and nursed what looked like a broken leg as the second half got underway, with neither side making inroads.

Pirates coach Vladimir Vermezovic made his first change on the hour mark, bringing on Sifiso Myeni for Khethokwakhe Masuku and Myeni almost made an immediate impact when he launched himself onto a neat ball into the area, but sent his free-kick wayward.

The Buccaneers found a way back into the game and returned to attacking ways as the clock wound down, as replacement Lehlohonolo Majoro threatened by was thwarted, before Ayanda Gcaba drilled a left-footed shot goalwards, taking a deflection on the way.

In the end, Hunt and his men had to settle for a share of the points, their third goalless draw on the trot, but with a plethora of goal-scoring opportunities that went a-begging, Hunt cut a disappointing figure on the sidelines.

-SAPA

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