DURBAN – Orlando Pirates put in a solid performance at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on Saturday night to secure a 1-0 league win over Golden Arrows.
A 20th minute Justin Shonga goal was enough for maximum points in a rainy Durban and sees Bucs moving to within a single point of league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns.
In what was always a tightly-contested encounter, Arrows keeper Nkosingiphile Gumede was called into making the first noteworthy save of the night when he dived full length to keep out a Musa Nyatama pile-driver in the 12th minute.
Eight minutes later he was picking the ball out of his own net after a well-worked Bucs short corner saw Luvuyo Memela passing to Shonga, who beat a man while cutting in from the right flank and then curled a sublime left-footed shot inside the far post.
For the remainder of the first half, it was the Durban side who were on top, but they weren't able to create many clearcut chances as Bucs defended resolutely.
The closest Arrows came to scoring before the interval was when Seth Parusnath's stinging drive from 25-yards was parried by Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands towards Knox Mutizwa, but the Zimbabwean's touch let him down 10-yards out from goal.
The match opened up after half time as the hosts tried to push for an equaliser, although that also allowed the Soweto side to exploit the space left unguarded at the back.
However, apart from a header wide from Happy Jele and a moment when Gumede came out well to block at the feet of Vincent Pule, Pirates didn't look especially likely to add a second goal, meaning Arrows were always in with a chance of getting something from the game.
A mistake from Arrows defender Musa Bilankulu in the 80th minute did give Thembinkosi Lorch the chance to wrap up the win, but from a good position, he pulled his shot wide of the far post.
Lorch also missed another opportunity at the end of regulation time and then had a goal incorrectly ruled off-sides in the 94th minute as Bucs managed to hold on fairly comfortably in the end for victory.
African News Agency (ANA)