Orlando Pirates get comfortable win over Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila
JOHANNESBURG - Orlando Pirates were third time lucky in the DStv Premiership as they bagged their first full points of the New Year after comfortably defeating Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila on Wednesday night at the Thohoyandou Stadium.
Goals from Deon Hotto, Gabandinho Mhango and Fortune Makaringe ensured that the Bucs returned to winning ways after a two-game slump since the start of the year as they climbed to fourth on the standings with 17 points, seven behind leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
Pirates’ blemish, which has resulted in an underwhelming start this year following the loss to Sundowns and draw with Swallows FC, has been their largely due to their inability to convert chances up front, following the unavailability of two key strikers to injuries respectively.
Tshegofatso Mabasa and Zakhele Lepasa had to leave the field on stretchers against Chippa United late last year. A double blow for coach Josef Zinnbauer after the duo had played a key role in Pirates’ undefeated streak in the early outings of the season.
But after losing two points against the Birds on Sunday at home in stoppage time, after falling to protect Ben Motshwari’s lead with five minutes to regulation time, Zinnbauer was not leaving anything to chance against Tshakhuma, sending out a potent striking department.
The notable inclusion to the starting line-up, however, was that of the team’s and league’s top goal scorer Mhango for Terrence Dzvukamananja up front. The Malawian's hard running and pressing kept Tshakhuma’s defence on its toes.
But more so, Mhango could easily complement Vincent Pule and Deon Hotto up front, having the trio played together at defunct Bidvest Wits. Such that Pule should have opened his team’s scoring gates, early on, after a sumptuous delivery from Wayde Jooste but he hit the side-netting with a diving header.
Pule, who missed the Original Soweto derby on the weekend due to a suspension, made up for his miss. The Pirates’ winger intercepted a hospital pass from defender Meshack Maphangule which was intended for goalkeeper and captain Washington Arubi.
Pule was selfless, teeing up a well-positioned Hotto who’s initial close-range shot was cleared off the line by Tebogo Thangwane before receiving the rebound and finally slotting the Bucs’ breakthrough – their second lead in as many matches.
Tshakhuma should have created something out of nothing when former Bucs’ winger Thabo Rakhale found himself on a one-on-one duel with Wayne Sandilands after a well-weighted pass from the engine room - which had been non-existent until then.
But Rakhale failed to utilise the effort, chipping the ball over Sandilands before it unceremoniously rattled the upright and sailed away for a goal-kick. Pirates, though, punished Tshakhuma, Lorch setting up Mhango with a through-ball as the latter's hard-low shot sneaked below the arm of Arubi.
Pirates continued where they left off in the second half, adding more misery to Tshakhuma’s woes. Makaringe scored his team’s third with a perfectly-executed shot just outside the D-Line after a selfless pass from Lorch, who registered his second assist of the match.
The home side had a chance to get a consolation in the dying stages of the match, but their pin-point shot was saved by Sandilands. The defeat meant Tshakhuma dropped down 12th on the standings with nine points, three adrift from the automatic relegation spot.
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