Johannesburg - Orlando Pirates laboured to a 1-0 victory over Platinum Stars in their Premiership match at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday evening.
It was a lacklustre performance between the sides, who were level on points coming into the game, placed second and third respectively.
The only goal of the encounter came from a sharp finish by Daine Klate in the 53rd minute.
Despite the below-average performance from the Buccaneers, they kept pace with table-topping Kaizer Chiefs, staying within two points and holding a game in hand, with Amakhosi defeating Black Leopards 3-1 in a simultaneous match in Polokwane.
The best attempt of the first period for Pirates fell to Klate. After a flowing move from the home team, he found his way into the centre of the box to meet the cross, but his shot was directed straight at Siyabonga Mpontshane in the Stars’ goal.
It took some time before the visitors got going, and they resorted to long-range efforts.
Patrick Molokase had a dip at goal in the 18th minute, but his shot was gathered easily by Pirates keeper Senzo Meyiwa.
A minute later Bucs responded with a header from Thandani Ntshumayelo but he could not find the back of net.
Stars had their best opportunity of the first period on the half-hour mark. Thuso Phala produced a through ball and Mogakolodi Ngele hit the post with his attempt, and Patrick Malokase blasted the rebound narrowly over the crossbar.
Eight minutes later, Stars threatened again. From a long throw-in Robert Nga'mbi had a free shot in the area, but the effort was way over target.
Three minutes after the break, Thabo Matlaba tried his luck from 30m out, and his strike required a full-length diving save from Mpontshane.
Klate scored the opener eight minutes after the break. Ntshumayelo put a great cross into the box for Klate at the far post, and he made no mistake as he found the back of the net to edge the hosts 1-0 ahead.
Three minutes later Stars came close to levelling the scores. A Benson Mhlongo shot from just outside the area needed a sharp save from Meyiwa.
Pirates should then have doubled their advantage, but Klate missed from close range. Takesure Chinyama provided the cross, leaving Klate in space, but the shot was just wide of the near post with only the keeper to beat.
Enocent Mkhabela had a strong header saved at close range by Meyiwa in the 70th minute for Stars from a corner.
Matlaba hit the side of the post from an acute angle with 18 minutes left, as the home side looked to extend their advantage.
In the 87th minute, Siphelele Mthembu came agonisingly close to wrestling a point for his side. Mthembu's shot from inside the area had the beating of Meyiwa, but the ball struck the post and went out for a goal kick. - Sapa