Bucs' fading title hopes dealt another blow

2013-04-17 21:52

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Free State Stars all but ended the title hopes of defending champions Orlando Pirates, holding the Buccaneers to a 1-1 league draw in Phuthaditjhaba this evening.

Paulus Masehe, unmarked in the area, pounced on a loose ball after a deflected header in the 32nd minute to put the hosts in front.

And while Pirates tried desperately to find the equaliser, in an effort to pocket crucial points in the Absa Premiership race, Stars kept them under pressure.

They eventually saved a point with 12 minutes remaining in the match when Sihle Mpuqa handled the ball in the area and Collins Mbesuma scored a low strike from the penalty spot.

"There was a lapse of concentration in the first half, but we put a new team out there, because we had to, and you've got to take your hat off to them," said Pirates coach Roger de Sa.

"I think overall we played, we tried, we kept on working, kept on trying to get the goal.

"We took a chance and came away with a draw. We could have won it – I thought we had enough little chances at the end – but it's gone that way for us. We're just going to keep on working."

Both sides created multiple opportunities in the dying stages of the match, but some sloppy finishing and solid defence kept the scores level.

The draw stretched Pirates' winless run to six straight matches, and left them six points behind pace setters Kaizer Chiefs, with five matches left in the league campaign, as Bucs remained third in the standings.

Platinum Stars, level on points with Pirates ahead of the midweek fixtures, beat Wits 2-1 in a simultaneous match to move two points clear in second place.

Free State Stars, meanwhile, picked up a valuable point to stay in the the top half of the table.

"It's that time of the season where every match becomes a helluva struggle," said Stars coach Steve Komphela.

Meanwhile, second-half goals from either side resulted in a share of the spoils between Mamelodi Sundowns and the University of Pretoria, who drew 1-1 in their Absa Premiership clash at Loftus Versfeld.

A disappointing first half was rectified in the 51st minute, when Richard Henyekane put the hosts ahead, before Bongani Zungu cancelled the opener midway through the second period to send the teams home with one point a piece.

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