Stellenbosch hold on bravely to beat Pirates
CAPE TOWN – Stellenbosch FC repelled everything a desperate Orlando Pirates threw at them to earn a 1-0 league win in a pulsating match at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The defeat leaves the Sea Robbers without a victory in their last three league outings, and 10 points adrift of log leaders Kaizer Chiefs, who play second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns on Sunday.
The only goal was scored by Iqraam Rayners in the 21st minute as last season's National First Division champions secured a second successive win to move to 10 points on the table.
The 90 minutes were frustrating from the Buccaneers' perspective as they had plenty of ball and numerous opportunities, but failed to find a way to prise open the home defence.
There was a chance for the Soweto side in the 15th minute when after an intricate build-up, the ball was released to Tshegofatso Mabasa, but the end product was missing as he dragged his shot just past the far post.
Proudly Stellenbosch! pic.twitter.com/dhayZlkkOk— Stellenbosch FC (@StellenboschFC) October 26, 2019
It was a mistake at the other end of the park which led to the opener as Bulelani Ndengane misplaced his pass, allowing Rayners to run at goal before squeezing in a low 18-yard effort past Wayne Sandilands and into the net.
Buoyed by the goal, the Cape side came looking for a second and it took a double save from Sandilands in the 24th minute to deny Waseem Isaacs as well as the follow up from Nyiko Mobbie.
After that, Bucs were to regain control, but never really looked like scoring during the remainder of the first half and went into the break a goal down.
Pirates continued to make most of the running after the restart, and goalkeeper Boy de Jong was kept busy as he made a good diving save to keep out a powerful effort from Thembinkosi Lorch before reacting sharply to deny Mabasa.
Apart from that, the hosts were increasingly having to throw bodies on the line while shots and crosses continued to come into their box - as Bucs further upped the intensity of their attacks.
With about 20 minutes to go, Stellenbosch, however, were able to respond with a few threats of their own as Isaacs stole the ball in midfield before flashing a drive just wide and then Marc van Heerden went for a lobbed effort from 55-metres out, which Sandilands did well to tip over the bar.
The action continued at both ends as Lorch failed to hit the target with another shot before Isaacs sent a header over and then Justin Shonga came close from a tight angle.
As the game went into the final few minutes Pirates turned up the pressure even more and after a succession of blocked shots, with Van Heerden in particular defending like his life depended on it, Mabasa was very unlucky not to equalise in the 89th minute when his header brushed the woodwork.
That proved to be the last real chance on a highly frustrating afternoon for the visiting side while the Cape team certainly earned the points with some outstanding defending.
African News Agency (ANA)