Richards Bay frustrated Orlando Pirates for the second time this month as they held them to a 0-0 stalemate in the DStv Premiership at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban yesterday afternoon.
Earlier in the month, Kaitano Tembo’s men defeated Pirates 5-4 on penalties in a Carling Knockout Cup quarter-final clash which was played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The game bore similarities to the Carling Knockout clash. Pirates once again dominated possession with a lack of finesse in the final third costing them. Tembo’s side, to their credit, held firm in defence when it mattered against their technically stronger opponents.
Pirates took their time to come into the game as they struggled to string together accurate passes in the opening 20 minutes.
A lack of decisive decision making by the Soweto giants led to Natal Rich Boyz having two opportunities in the opening three minutes.
They were lucky that Yanela Mbuthuma failed to make the most from the opportunities.
With his first chance, Mbuthuma directed a weak effort which Pirates goalkeeper Melusi Buthelezi easily held onto.
With his second, he found himself on the end of a through ball from Sanele Barns before forcing another save out of Buthelezi and winning a corner.
A lack of communication from Pirates was evident after the 12th minute as a lack of communication between captain Tapelo Xoki and goalkeeper Buthelezi led to the skipper nearly scoring an own goal.
Pirates utilised an attacking 3-4-3 formation but they were hardly effective in the first half as none of their shots were on target and they failed to cause problems to Natal Rich Boyz keeper Jackson Mabokgwane.
As Pirates came into the game, they started to operate more smoothly and created chances though were poor in front of goal. That trend continued in the second half as they created chances with the likes of Vincent Pule, Relebohile Mofokeng and Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo not capitalising.
It took Pirates almost 70 minutes to come to life in attack as Xoki forced a save out of Mabokgwane with a right-footed shot from a free-kick. Minutes later Mbuthuma made a vital defensive intervention for Bay to deny Patrick Maswanganyi what would have been a certain goal from a flick.
Richards Bay had a late chance to potentially win the game when Boikanyo Komane combined with Thulani Gumede but the former missed the target.
The result will heap the pressure on Pirates coach Jose Riveiro as it leaves the team mid-table in the league. The Sea Robbers would have been hoping for nothing less than to give runaway league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns a hard time this season but as things stand, are set to underperform yet again.
A big area of concern for Pirates and Riveiro is their lack of fluency in build-up play. Had their build-up play been better in this game, they could have won it.
The result will be a confidence boost for Richards Bay as they look to claw their way further out from the relegation zone.
In three out of the four times that the teams have played so far, the result has been 0-0 with Pirates 2-0 league win in April being the only time that a contest between the two produced a result.
The Natal Rich Boyz will next be in action on Saturday, December 2 as they host Stellenbosch FC in the Carling Knockout Semi-final.
Pirates next play against old foes Moroka Swallows in the “original” Soweto derby at the Orlando Stadium on Tuesday, December 5.