Cape Town - Tshegofatso Mabasa's second-half goal proved the difference as Orlando Pirates clinched a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Highlands Park at the Makhulong Stadium on Tuesday night.
The first half proved to a be a closely contested affair, with goal-scoring chances at a premium for both teams.
Pirates, welcoming skipper Happy Jele back into the starting XI, had the first real chance of note in the 15th minute as Vincent Pule headed just over the bar at the back post after Tshegofatso Mabasa whipped a good cross into the box from out wide.
The visitors again went close a few minutes later, but the chance came to nothing as Paseka Mako scuffed his shot with the goal at his mercy.
Highlands Park eventually notched their first shot on target in the 29th minute, Tendai Ndoro's header forcing a save from Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands, with Ryan Rae striking the post on the follow-up, much to the relief of the Buccaneers.
Ndoro again went close to breaking the deadlock a few minutes later, but Sandilands did well to make a diving save, tipping the ball round the post for a corner.
Pirates had a a great chance to snatch the lead on the stroke of half-time, but an unmarked Pule somehow failed to hit the target with a header from close range.
The visitors started on the front foot after the half-time interval and again went close to grabbing the lead in the 49th minute as Linda Mntambo fired wide of the mark, while team-mate Pule failed to hit the target just after the hour mark.
The breakthrough finally arrived with ten minutes remaining as Mabasa, seemingly in an offside position, collected a through-pass from Mntambo before bursting into the box and firing a left-footed effort past the onrushing Thela Ngobeni and into the bottom-right corner.
And the Lions of the North were unable to recover from that setback, with Pirates holding firm in the final minutes to claim all three points and return to winning ways.