JOHANNESBURG – League leaders Orlando Pirates were given a tough workout by Maritzburg United at the Orlando Stadium on Saturday night, and had to settle for a 0-0 draw in an entertaining 90 minutes.
The home side did enjoy more chances on goal on the night, and Team of Choice keeper Richard Ofori had to make some fine saves to earn his side the point.
With that said, Maritzburg gave a good fight and had opportunities to score. In the end, a draw was just about the right result.
The first half was a lively affair, as both teams showed good attacking intent, but for the most part, there were few in the way of clear-cut openings.
The best chance was the first one of the game. A defence-splitting pass from Augustine Mulenga put Justin Shonga in on goal after 10 minutes, but Ofori made a fantastic reflex save, getting up a strong arm to keep out the shot.
After Fortune Makaringe’s shot from a tight angle drew a comfortable stop from Bucs stopper Siyabonga Mpontshane, Ofori was called into action again in the 18th minute, and did well to keep out a stinging drive from Thembinkosi Lorch.
Maritzburg then came back with a few efforts of their own as Andrea Fileccia had a 27th-minute shot deflected on to the roof of the net, before the same player fired a volley over the bar eight minutes later.
Bucs, though, did look more of a threat going forward, and only a superb tackle by Brian Onyango on Mulenga prevented the Zambian from giving the hosts the lead a few minutes before the interval.
Pirates were on the front foot after the break, but they struggled to penetrate the Maritzburg defence.
And when they did break through in the 57th minute with Shonga, the ball took an awkward bobble and he was unable to get his shot away.
The Sea Robbers kept the pressure on, and it took another outstanding save from Ofori, this time on a Vincent Pule free kick 15 minutes from time, to keep United in the game.
A minute later at the other end, the KZN side were unlucky not to take the lead against the run of play when after a quick break, Deolin Mekoa thumped a 25-yard effort against the crossbar.
There was yet more work for the official Man-of-the-Match Ofori to do eight minutes from time when he flew off his line to prevent a goal-bound Mulenga from scoring.
To their credit, Maritzburg were not intent to sit and play out for the draw, and they had a couple of sniffs at goal themselves, the best chance falling to Rushine de Reuck three minutes from time, but he shot tamely at Mpontshane.
🗣️ Coach Fadlu— Maritzburg United FC (@MaritzburgUtd) December 1, 2018
"We have to take this as a morale booster and build confidence from this. These players have to believe how good they really are. Tactically they followed the game plan to the tee"#WeAreUnited pic.twitter.com/iIgqkObglb
Ofori was to have the final say of the night when he did well to spot Lorch’s chip from 50 yards out to save on the line as the KZN side played to their sixth goalless stalemate of the season.
The result leaves Pirates one point above Wits, who beat Black Leopards on Saturday night, and three above Bloemfontein Celtic, who host Polokwane City on Sunday.
African News Agency (ANA)