FILE - Baroka FC's Gerald Phiri Jr scored a late equaliser as they drew with Orlando Pirates in Saturday's PSL clash. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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.

Some 10 minutes into the half, Pirates were imposing themselves on the match and their build-up work proved penetrative but they often lost possession in the final third quarter.

Most of Pirates' pressure came from fast-paced attacks down the right flank but Baroka's defence averted danger by clearing the resultant goalmouth crosses.

A close-in free-kick by Pirates' Fortune Makaringe had 'goal' written all over it but Baroka's Zimbabwean goalkeeper Elvis Chipezeze deflected it smartly for a 15th-minute corner.

Maliele Pule squandered another scoring chance for Pirates after he angled his shot over the crossbar after Baroka had failed to deal with a low goalmouth cross from the left flank in the 26th minute.

Baroka had a chance to open their scoring account but Tshediso Patjie, with Baroka's first shot on target, was denied by Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands, who was well in position to avert danger.

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.

African News Agency (ANA)