Ten-man Orlando Pirates share the spoils with Stellenbosch FC in four goal thriller
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JOHANNESBURG – Orlando Pirates’ misfortunes during the start of the season continued after they were held to a 2-all draw by Stellenbosch FC in the opening game of their DStv Premiership campaign at the Orlando Stadium, Soweto, on Saturday afternoon.
Pirates might have kept their record of being unbeaten in the opening day of the last five seasons after this draw, but their defenders need a lot of improvement – especially Thulani Hlatshwayo who played a role in both goals that they conceded.
Pirates’ defeat to Swallows FC in the MTN8 quarter-final also came from their defensive mistakes as they were punished by Ruzaigh Gamildien. In the midfield, they looked stable, albeit being without regulars Ben Motshwari and Thabang Monare.
The resignation of Josef Zinnnbauer last Monday saw new caretaker coaches Fadlu Davids and Mandla Ncikazi take charge of their first match. The duo made four changes to the team that lost to Swallows FC in the MTN8 quarter-final last weekend.
There were debuts for duo Bandile Shandu and Goodman Mosele to the fairly balanced Pirates team. But before the Bucs could even settle into the game, they were on the back-foot as striker Waseem Isaacs pounced with an early wonder strike.
Against the run of play, in the second minute, Junior Mendieta set-free an onrushing Isaacs who didn’t need a second invite, unleashing a long-range thunderbolt that took a deflection from Hlatshwayo before rattling the roof of the net.
From thereon, though, Pirates were forced to come out and chase the game. And they did that with build-up play as Mosele and Abel Mabaso started to click in the engine room, allowing their striking contingent to have free roles up front.
The Bucs saw their passing game pay off in the 18th minute. Deon Hotto struck a resultant set-piece with aplomb, hitting the top corner which gave Lee Langeveldt no chance. Pirates should have taken the lead in a flash from Kabelo Dlamini.
But his pin-point shot was impressively parried away from danger by Langeveldt. And with Pirates in control, they were expected to find their lead. Instead, Ntsikelelo Nyauza got a straight red card after his clumsy tackles on Ashley Du Preez before half-time
The Sea Robbers, though, appeared to hit steady waters after Mosele headed home a debut goal after a flicked pass from substitute Vincent Pule as Stellies’ defence was caught napping. But substitute Judas Moseamedi equalised for Stellenbosch.
With an instinctive poachers’ finish, Moseamedi guided home a delightful diving header in front of Hlatshwayo who seems to be followed by last season’s nightmares. But with time not on their side, Pirates' technical team threw more men forward.
Stellies were not leaving anything to chance, though, ensuring that they kept a composed structure while catching Pirates on a counter against the run of play. But it ended with the two sides sharing the spoils in the opening game of their new campaign.