Cape Town - James Keene scored the only goal of the game as Bidvest Wits beat Orlando Pirates at the Bidvest Stadium on Wednesday night to narrow the gap to Absa Premiership leaders Mamelodi Sundowns to just four points.
The Clever Boys had to work hard for their victory over a Buccaneers team which came into the clash on the back of a three-game winning streak in the league, but their reward is the rejuvenation of their title hopes as they took advantage of Sundowns’ surprise loss at home to Bloemfontein Celtic.
Wits started the match brightly and Elias Pelembe almost opened the scoring in the 11th minute, getting away a shot from a tight angle on the left of the penalty area which looked destined for the back of the net until goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo made a fine save with his legs.
Midway through the first half Pirates almost broke the deadlock, with Luvoyo Memela getting away a shot from the near the right by-line which had the beating of Moeneeb Josephs but rebounded off the post and skidded out of reach of Thabo Qalinge.
Wits claimed the lead in the 29th minute through striker James Keene, who continued his prolific start to life in South African football. The Englishman managed to squeeze the ball home from close range after a good low cross from the right of the penalty area by Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Just before half time Memela was arguably lucky to stay on the field after a nasty, over-the-top challenge on Daine Klate which could have broken the Wits midfielder’s leg. The Pirates man received only a yellow card, while Klate was fortunately able to play on.
Bucs dominated the play in the early stages of the second half and Wits needed goalkeeper Josephs to make two excellent saves, first to keep out a glancing header from Tendai Ndoro and then to palm away a low, long-range effort from Mpho Makola.
However, that was as close as the Soweto side came to claiming an equaliser, with Wits able to neutralise their opponents and hold out for a hugely important victory.