POLOKWANE – Dominant Orlando Pirates were forced to settle for a 2-all draw against Baroka FC in a PSL Absa Premiership match at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, in Polokwane, on Saturday afternoon.
With seven minutes playing time left, PIrates were coasting to a 2-0 win but then self-destructed to let two goals in the remaining time, including an own goal. Pirates led 1-0 at the break.
There was lots of needle from the outset and referee Abongile Tom was a busy man, blowing for 14 fouls in the opening half-hour. Some of the fouls were as a result of the wet, slippery conditions and a few risky challenges.
Pirates grabbed the initiative from the start and created several pressure spells but had to wait for 37 minutes before they scored. Before that, they forced seven corners, some of which effective but the Baroka defence held out.
The first of these seven corners emerged as early as the fourth minute, but the set-piece effort was largely ineffective.
Just after their seventh corner, Pirates finally made their pressure count, and they did so in style after a fine Maliele Pule pass. The recipient Onassis Mntambo rounded his Baroka marker Denwin Farmer in central defence and then unleashed a low drive for the opening goal.
As it turned out, it was the only goal in the half although Baroka threatened briefly just ahead of the halftime whistle.
Baroka showed a greater sense of urgency when play resumed but after they failed to convert two half-chances but suffered a further setback when Pirates substitute Kabelo Dlamini scored with a rasping drive from outside the penalty area after a poor clearance by Chipezeze in the 57th minute.
There was a strong response three minutes later from Baroka but they were denied by Sandilands who made two reflex saves in quick succession, plumb in front of his goals.
Neither side seemed content with their lot and for a while, play swung like a pendulum from one end to the other after a wave of attacks.
Ironically, Pirates enjoyed the better scoring chances but Baroka was next on the scoresheet after an own goal by Happy Jele. He tried to deflect a goal-bound shot by Baroka's Gerald Phiri and the ball squirted past his goalkeeper (2-1).
More woe followed for Pirates in the final minute of regulation time when they failed to deal with what seemed an innocuous throw-in. As the ball bobbed about the penalty area, Phiri let rip with a speculative drive and the shot sizzled through the defence for a face-saving goal – and a share of the spoils.
In Saturday's other afternoon game, Black Leopards and AmaZulu played to a goalless draw in Polokwane.