Soweto - Goals from Thamsanqa Gabuza and Thabo Matlaba enabled Orlando Pirates to claim a 2-1 win over Chippa United at Orlando Stadium on Saturday evening.
The victory takes the Buccaneers into the top half of the table - they are eighth, displacing Golden Arrows thanks to a superior goal difference - while the Chilli Boys remain ominously close to the relegation zone in 12th.
Chippa were dealt an early blow when they had to replace defender Pentjie Zulu due to injury inside the opening 10 minutes, while they also forced Pirates goalkeeper into a fine save through an effort from Andile Mbenyane shortly thereafter.
On 22 minutes it was Chippa ‘keeper Zama Dlamini’s turn to show off his ability as he got up sharply to tip over a long-range drive from Abbubaker Mobara.
Yet there was nothing Dlamini could do to prevent Gabuza turning home Thabo Matlaba’s cross with a brilliant acrobatic volley in the 29th minute. The big striker’s first league goal of the season made it 1-0 to the Buccaneers.
The hosts dominated the rest of the first stanza, but on the stroke of half-time the Chilli Boys claimed an equaliser almost out of nowhere, putting together a fine passing move which ended with Paseka Mako sliding a shot through Mpontshane’s legs to make it 1-1 at the break.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Pirates reclaimed the lead through Matlaba, who let fly with a long-range effort which wrong-footed Dlamini and found its way into the back of the net despite the ‘keeper getting a hand to it.
Chippa looked to get back into the game, but in the dying minutes their hopes were crippled when midfielder Thamsanqa Sangweni picked up his second yellow card and was sent for an early shower.
Orlando Pirates (1) 2 (Gabuza 29’, Matlaba 65’)
Chippa United (1) 1 (Mako 45+1’)
Pirates: Mpontshane, Matlaba, Jele, Gcaba, Phungwayo, Mobara, Sarr, Makola (Qalinge 83’), Manyisa, Lorch (Rakhale 46’), Gabuza (Ndoro 71’)
Chippa: Z. Dlamini, Thopola (Mdlizo 85’), Bergman, Chabalala, P. Zulu (Mbokoma 9’), Mvelase (Wambi 70’), Zuke, Sangweni, Mako, Mbenyane, L. Manzini