SOWETO, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 01: Mpho Makola of Orlando Pirates battling for the ball with Mbhuyiselo Sambu of Free State Stars during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium on March 01, 2014 in Soweto, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images)

Johannesburg – Assistant coach Eric Tinkler was pleased with his Orlando Pirates players for retaining their composure as they coasted to a 2-0 win over Premiership strugglers Free State Stars at Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

Stars held off their rampant hosts for the entire first half, but the Buccaneers netted twice within the first 10 minutes of the second period as they climbed to fifth in the league standings, holding at least one game in hand over each of the teams above them.

“We told the players they needed to be patient and play with width,” Tinkler said.

“We knew they would come here defending very deep and in numbers, but as long as we had players giving us width we would find spaces in-between and the chances would come, and it paid off.”

Tinkler admitted the hosts struggled after Stars changed their formation and pushed more bodies forward in the final half hour, but he was satisfied with the victory, with newly appointed head coach Vladimir Vermezovic watching from the stands.

“Overall I'm happy because we knew it would be a tough game and scoring two goals is a bit of a bonus.”

With Vermezovic expected to take over as early as their next match, Tinkler was eager to return to his number two role with the Soweto giants.

“I'm very happy at the club. Life goes on and I'll go back to my duties as the assistant coach and provide what I can to benefit the team.”

Stars coach Themba Sithole was disappointed to concede twice in quick succession after his side stood firm for nearly 50 minutes, as the Free State outfit remained second from bottom in the table.

“I think we lost concentration on two occasions, and that's what cost us the game,” Sithole said.

“We have to learn to concentrate for 90 minutes. You can't concede goals like that, early in the second half.

“We've got mature players and we could have done better than we did.” Sithole was not overly concerned, however, despite his team going down in their 10th defeat in 18 league games this season, and he was confident they could lift themselves clear of the relegation zone.

“We just have to concentrate more. We are playing Ajax next week at home and it's a must-win game.

“If we can win our home games, I think we'll be ok.” – Sapa