JOHANNESBURG – The Buccaneers finally made their dominance of a match count with this come-from-behind victory at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday.
While they had struggled for victories in their previous matches – particularly the back-to-back defeats against arch-rivals Kaizer Chiefs,Pirates had been the dominant and more attacking side only to be let down by their finishing.
Their coach Rhulani Mokwena had said afterwards he was pleased with his team’s play and express ed that all they need to get right is decision making in the final third.
They got it spot on last night to bag three precious points in a victory that could well see them fulfilling the promise their game has always shown.
Two second half goals by substitutes Tshegofatso Mabaso and Kabelo Dlamini killed off the challenge of a Polokwane City side that had threatened to keep the Buccanneers winless for five league games.
An eventful first half produced two goals, one of them from the penalty spot and two red cards as the two sides went at each other hammer and tongs.
Expectedly, Pirates – with their line-up unchanged from their last match against Kaizer Chiefs – took the initiative and forced Polokwane on the backfoot.
Incredibly though, it was the men from up north who found the net first when Charlton Mashumba headed home unchallenged following a well-taken corner kick.
This Pirates team though has shown they are fighters and trailing as early as the 11th minute only served to fire them up and they put pressure on their adversaries.
While their play was worthy of the equaliser, the manner of that goal was pretty controversial – the referee awarding the Buccaneers a penalty for a handball that never was.
Gabadinho Mhango easily slotted home from the spot kick. They nearly went ahead immediately thereafter but Polokwane goalkeeper Chibwe denied Vincent Pule with a brilliant reflex save.
An attack from the right ended with Pule side-footing the ball which looked to be going in only for Chibwe to dive to his left and keep it out.
There was another brilliant safe by the Zambian ten minutes after the break to keep the Pirates favourite from finding the net. An innocuous attack ended with Pule in possession on the edge of the box and with the visitors’ defenders retreating, the left-footed star had all the time to line up his shot. The ball – hit hard with the top of the boot - appeared headed for the net only for a ‘flying’ Chibwe to scoop it over for a corner.
Before that goal and ahead of the break though there was drama as Thembinkosi Lorch and Puleng Tlolane engaged in a head-butting contest that was preceded by the former tripping the latter and then blasting him with the ball as he lay on the pitch.
The Pirates man’s angry reaction meant both men were sent for an early shower.
The hosts returned from the break much more attack-minded and the newcomers struck gold. Mabaso put them 2-1 up following a corner kick and Dlamini scored a third with a sweetly-struck shot having rattled the crossbar shortly before that.
But when they looked to be cruising to a comfortable win, Pirates allowed their opponents to pull one back with some slack defending that allowed Mvelase to make the scoreline respectable.