Durban – Justin Shonga’s first-half goal proved
to be the difference as Orlando Pirates edged Golden Arrows 1-0 at Sugar
Ray Xulu Stadium on Saturday night.
The Buccaneers grabbed the lead in the 20th minute, and that early
goal proved to be enough as the home side failed to muster a response in
a drab second half.
Pirates started the match on the front, pegging the hosts back in their own half for extended passages of play.
Arrows briefly threatened the grab the lead in the 18th minute but
the chance went to waste as Danny Venter fired well wide of the target.
Abafana Bes’thende were made to rue that missed opportunity just
three minutes later as Pirates went on to claim the lead, Justin Shonga
collecting a neat pass from Luvuyo Memela before firing into the
top-left corner with a curling left-footed effort.
Despite taking the lead, Pirates were unable to push on as Arrows began to claw their way back into the game.
Goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands almost gifted Arrows an equaliser just
after the half-hour mark after failing to keep hold of Seth Parusnath’s
stinging shot, but Knox Mutizwa was unable to convert on the follow-up.
The home side created another great chance to equalise just moments
before half-time but Mutizwa headed wide of the mark as Pirates went
into the break with a slender advantage.
The second half offered up very little in the way of goalmouth
action, with Pirates enjoying plenty of possession but failing to put
Arrows under any real pressure.
The best chance of the half fell to Shonga in the 80th minute, but
with just ‘keeper Nkosingiphile Gumede to beat he fired wide of the mark.
Pirates were not made to regret that missed opportunity, however, as
they held on the remaining minutes to claim all three points and keep
their Absa Premiership title hopes alive.