Orlando Pirates missed out on the chance to draw level with Bidvest Wits at the top of the Absa Premiership when they were held 1-1 by Baroka FC at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.
The result, which was secured by a late leveller from Vincent Pule, sees the Buccaneers remain in second place, two points adrift of the pace-setting Clever Boys – with both teams having played 18 matches.
Bakgaga, who led for the majority of the clash, move up one position to 13th but are just two points above the relegation playoff spot.
Pirates started with attacking intent and created several early chances, but they were unable to capitalise on them. The hosts were then punished in the 13th minute, with Baroka’s Matome Mabeba scoring with a brilliant strike direct from a free kick to put Baroka 1-0 up.
The Buccaneers bossed the remainder of the first half, but were unable to create many clear-cut chances despite their dominance. The best opportunity went the way of Linda Mntambo near the interval, but he was unable to test Elvis Chipezeze in the Baroka goal.
Pirates made a tactical change at the start of the second half, replacing hard-working midfielder Ben Motshwari with the more attack-minded Thembinkosi Lorch, and they looked to up their intensity in the final third.
Ten minutes after the restart Justin Shonga nearly came up with a great equaliser, pulling down a difficult ball on the edge of the penalty area before sending a volley just over the crossbar.
The Soweto giants then almost forced an own goal with just under a quarter hour of regulation time remaining, as Baroka’s Abdi Banda inadvertently directed a low cross toward his own net, but Chipezeze was on hand to make the save.
Pirates’ pressure finally paid off in the 83rd minute when Vincent Pule got on the end of a cross from Augustine Mulenga and placed a superb header beyond the reach of Chipezeze to make it 1-1.
Bucs pushed for a winner in what remained of the match – including over 10 minutes of injury time – but they were unable to find another way through the Limpopo side’s defence.
The teams will return to Absa Premiership action on the first weekend of February, with Pirates away to SuperSport United and Baroka at home to Chippa United.
Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Pule 83’)
Baroka FC (1) 1 (Mabeba 13’)
Pirates: Mabokgwane, Dube (Gabuza 60’), Jele (Mahachi 76’), Ndengane, Mako, Motshwari (Lorch 46’), Munetsi, Mntambo, Pule, Shonga, Mulenga
Baroka: Chipezeze, Banda, Semenya, Sibiya, Gebhardt, Mabeba, Madigoe, Mosele, Makgaka (Mapheto 76’), Sodi (Chinyengetere 68’), Dickens (Chawapiwa 57’)