Substitute Vincent Pule fires Orlando Pirates to victory over Maritzburg United
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CAPE TOWN - Orlando Pirates moved up one slot to occupy fourth place on the DStv Premiership standings following their well-taken 2-0 win over Maritzburg United at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto, on Sunday evening.
With this win, Pirates have 38 points after 22 games and have overtaken fellow Soweto rivals Swallows (36 points) on the latest log. Maritzburg remain in 13th place and have 20 points after 21 games.
The opening 20 minutes belonged to Maritzburg, and during this time, they managed five shots on goal and three corners. They enjoyed the lion's share of possession and ran hard at the Pirates defence.
Maritzburg's fast-paced attacks on occasion forced Pirates' rear guard to lose their shape, but they managed to absorb the pressure without conceding a goal.
Pirates’ goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands pulled off at least one excellent save. Central defender Ntsikelelo Nyauza also came to his assistance with a block, plumb in front, in the penalty box.
José Alí Meza, Maritzburg's Venezuelan striker, suffered a knee injury and was replaced by Sibusiso Hlubi in the 21st minute.
It took Pirates some time to strike up cohesion but around the half-hour mark and they managed to wrest the initiative.
Centre back Thabiso Sesane, who was making his Premiership debut, sparked an attack with a long upfield kick which found his striker Deon Hotto. Maritzburg's goalkeeper Marcel Engelhardt thwarted Hotto's parting shot with his outstretched leg in the 37th minute.
Seven minutes later, Namibian Hotto was again unmarked in the striking zone, but he fired his shot over the crossbar at a tone when Engelhardt was well off his line.
After the break, the fast-paced game saw scoring chances emerged at either end during the opening 12 minutes, with Pirates coming close on two occasions.
Substitute Vincent Pule, who replaced midfielder Ben Motshwari, finally broke the deadlock just ahead of the hour mark when he volleyed a goalmouth cross which Maritzburg's central defence failed to deal with.
Maritzburg were poised to grab the equaliser 12 minutes later when Pirates failed to clear a long throw-in into the penalty area. The bouncing ball reached unmarked striker Bongokuhle Hlongwane who ballooned his shot from three metres out.
Pule scored again 12 minutes from the end when Engelhardt came well out of his box to head the ball clear from a long upfield kick. Instead, the ball bounced behind him, and Pule pounced to score the easiest of goals.