Orlando Pirates are up and running in the DStv Premiership after claiming their first win, as they defeated hosts Bloemfontein Celtic 1-0 at the Dr Molemela Stadium on Wednesday night.
The Buccaneers avoided a third straight league draw thanks to a fine late strike from substitute Siphesihle Ndlovu, though they will be concerned at having lost two key players to injury through the 90 minutes. Phunya Sele Sele, meanwhile, are still awaiting their first league win of the season.
With the return game of their MTN8 semifinals awaiting on the weekend, Celtic and Pirates took very different approaches to their midweek line-ups, with the former making major alterations – including a debut for Robert Smith – while the latter made only one change, as Happy Jele stepped in for Thulani Hlatshwayo.
Pirates suffered an early injury blow when Thembinkosi Lorch limped off due to an issue with his left leg, forcing the 15th-minute introduction of former Celtic player Deon Hotto. Seven minutes later the visitors had the first shot in anger, with Vincent Pule cracking a volley from a tight angle which hit the side netting.
Celtic’s best effort of the first half arrived in the 42nd minute, with a corner kick causing some trouble for the Buccaneers as Thato Lingwati almost latched onto a loose ball from just a couple of metres out. That proved the last attacking highlight of a goalless first half.
Pirates skipper Jele was not far away from breaking the deadlock early in the second half, getting up high to flick on from a free kick and watch the ball flash just wide of Sipho Chaine’s right-hand post.
Bucs suffered another worrying injury blow within the first 15 minutes of the restart, as Terrence Dzvukamanja was stretchered off after a clash of heads and replaced by Siphesihle Ndlovu.
Celtic goalkeeper Chaine made his first notable save on 65 minutes, initially fumbling a low shot from Pule but recovering quickly to ensure there was no follow-up chance for Pirates, before the Bloemfontein side made a double change which saw the introductions of Harris Tchilimbou and Menzi Ndwandwe.
The match seemed headed for a goalless stalemate, but Pirates substitute Ndlovu struck a beautiful curling effort from the ‘D’ of the box into the bottom corner on 78 minutes, with Chaine left unsighted by bodies in front him and unable to make any effort at a save.
Celtic looked for a quick reply and forced Ofori into three good saves in a matter of minutes, as the Ghanaian kept out efforts from Tchilimbou, Tumelo Mangweni and Justice Chabalala, ensuring a clean sheet and a haul of three points for the Buccaneers.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action later this month, with Pirates hosting SuperSport United on Saturday, November 21 and Celtic visiting Cape Town City the following day.
Bloemfontein Celtic 0
Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Ndlovu 78’)
CELTIC: Chaine, De Jongh, Rikhotso, Chabalala, Matjila (Mangweni 85’), Lingwati, Potsane (Ndwandwe 66’), Luthuli, Maema (Ncobeni 85’), Smith (Mofokeng 73’), Sera (Tchilimbou 66’)
PIRATES: Ofori, Jooste (Mabaso 87’), Nyauza, Jele, Maela, Monare (Mako 59’), Motshwari, Lorch (Hotto 15’), Pule (Makaringe 87’), Dzvukamanja (Ndlovu 59’), Lepasa© Backpage TXT.
SOURCED FROM THE PSL WEBSITE.