Fortune Makaringe netted a late winner as Orlando Pirates claimed a 1-0 victory over ten-man Chippa United at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Pirates suffered an early blow when striker Zakhele Lepasa twisted his ankle and was stretchered off the field to be replaced by Gabadinho Mhango.
The Buccaneers were looking threatening. In the 10th minute, Thabiso Monyane was released behind the Chippa defence from a long ball and the right-back appeared to have outsmarted Thabiso Lebitso, but the Chilli Boys defender made a good recovery.
Monyane then made an error by giving the ball away to Augustine Kwem, but the defender made a fantastic recovery with a last-ditch intervention.
While Pirates were spending a lot of time in the final third and enjoying the overwhelming majority of possession, clear-cut chances were few and far between.
This, until Thembinkosi Lorch played a superb ball to the back post for Mhango, who got his header on target but it was dealt with by Ayanda Mtshali, who tipped the ball over the bar.
The Chilli Boys were reduced to ten men on the stroke of half-time when defender Sandile Mthethwa was sent off for putting his elbow in the face of Deon Hotto.
The Bucs had 60 percent of the possession in the opening half but just one shot on target and they needed to find more cutting edge in the second period.
And so Bucs coach Josef Zinnbauer replaced Monyane with Tshegofatso Mabaso and the first chance of the second half fell to the substitute after the ball was headed down to him by Mhango, but his goalbound effort was well blocked by Chippa centre-back Isaac Nhlapo.
Chippa brought on Gregory Damons for Lebitso, while Pirates brought on Terrence Dzvukamanja and Nkanyiso Zungu for an injured Mabasa and Ben Motshwari.
Pule then looked to get in behind the Chippa defence with some tricky dribbling but Nhlapo got back in time and his effort was straight at the keeper.
And just when it looked as if the game was heading for a stalemate, Pirates finally found the key to unlock the Chippa defence.
Lorch flicked the ball around the corner for substitute Linda Mntambo, who played the final pass for Makaringe, who slotted the ball past the keeper and into the back of the net to cap off a brilliant team goal and seal all three points.
- TeamTALK media