JOHANNESBURG – While domestic league leaders Mamelodi Sundowns were busy putting five goals past African giants Al Ahly in the CAF Champions League on Saturday afternoon, local title hopefuls Orlando Pirates rode their luck in beating Bidvest Wits 1-0 at the Bidvest Stadium – courtesy of a Keegan Ritchie own goal 10 seconds from time.
Wits and Pirates both started the day three points behind Sundowns on the Premiership standings but failed to make much of a statement of intent in a game which was somewhat lacking in goalmouth action and clearcut chances, until Ritchie's late moment of misfortune.
The first half turned out to be largely a midfield battle, with the two sides effectively cancelling each other out as they scrapped it out in the middle of the park.
The Clever Boys did have a few openings early on, but Ritchie, Gift Motupa and Cole Alexander were unable to hit the target with their efforts.
The home team were to suffer a setback on the half-hour mark when goalkeeper Darren Keet was forced off through injury.
His replacement, Ricardo Goss, started shakily and was very lucky to have had the chance to recover the ball from the feet of Justin Shonga after he had given away possession cheaply and then fumbled a cross by Luvuyo Memela.
Pirates' best chance came five minutes before the interval when the ball broke kindly to Thamsanqa Gabuza inside the box, but from a good position close to the penalty spot, he dragged his parting shot wide.
The Students ended the first half on top and it took a brilliant tackle from Happy Jele to stop Motupa from pulling the trigger before Gabadinho Mhango blazed a shot narrowly wide of the upright.
There was little change to the complexion of the match after the restart as the game remained tight, and it was only in the 69th minute that the next real chance arrived when Terrance Dzvukamanja went for the spectacular but missed the target with his volley.
The match remained balanced on a knife-edge and there for the taking as it moved into the final 10 minutes. A draw seemed the likely outcome, but with just a few seconds left to play in added time, Ritchie's attempted clearance from a Memela free-kick ended with the ball flying over Goss and into the net.
African News Agency (ANA)