Thamsanqa Gabuza netted a brace for Orlando Pirates on Saturday night. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

POLOKWANE – Polokwane City and Orlando Pirates slugged it out for a thrilling 2-2 league draw at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday night.

All four goals came in the second half as Thamsanqa Gabuza put the Sea Robbers in front before goals from Rendani Ndou and Rodney Ramagalela seemed to have sealed a home win, only for Gabuza to grab an added-time equaliser.

The Buccaneers were to have the better of the first-half exchanges, but were unable to make it count where it mattered most, in front of goal.

Gabuza had the first chance of the night when he sprinted clear down the right flank in the fifth minute and struck a venomous volley, but Polokwane keeper Harold Ndlovu, a late replacement after George Chigova was injured ahead of kickoff, made an excellent reflex save.

Ndlovu was on top of his game again seven minutes later when he went diving through the air to claw Mpho Makola’s sweetly-struck free kick to safety.

The home keeper made yet another superb stop on the half-hour mark when he reacted very smartly to tip the ball away from danger after a clearance had smashed into Gabuza and deflected goalwards.

Rise and Shine’s only chance of the half came two minutes before the break when Ndivhuwo Ravhuhali latched on to the ball 25 yards out, but although well struck, his shot went straight at Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands.

Bucs had the breakthrough five minutes after the interval when Thembinkosi Lorch cleverly set up Gabuza for a simple tap-in.

Smelling blood, the Buccaneers went looking for a second, but Ndlovu continued to thwart them as he improvised well to keep out Abubaker Mobara’s swerving drive with his feet before bravely diving at the boots of Lorch after he had gone in on goal.

Instead of the Soweto team making the game safe, the Limpopo club pounced with a goal out of nothing as Ndou headed in from close range on the hour mark from Ramagalela’s measured cross, following a brilliant move down the right. 

Just eight few minutes later and Polokwane – who had lost their previous four games – struck again with a deadly counter-attack as Jabu Maluleke took advantage of a slip in the Pirates midfield to release Ramagalela, who showed excellent composure to slot the ball past Sandilands.

Pirates debutant Justin Shonga was close to netting an 85th-minute equaliser after coming off the bench, but he stabbed the ball wide of goal after having gone around Ndlovu.

The Sea Robbers, however, refused to leave empty-handed, and they snatched a point when Gabuza nodded in a long pass from Musa Nyatama over the head of a stranded Ndlovu in the 92nd minute.

African News Agency (ANA)