By FOCUS REPORTER
Orlando Pirates reclaimed their number one spot in the Absa Premiership table with an emphatic 2-0 win over Free State Stars in an Absa Premiership clash played at Botshabelo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In Durban’s Moses Mabhida stadium, a goal each from Ntokozo Sikhakhane and Nathan Paulse saw AmaZulu and Bloemfontein Celtic share the spoils on Saturday afternoon.
It was a sloppy start to the match by both sides with neither team really able to keep hold of the ball for a sustained period of play. Instead, both teams lacked concentration when in possession and gifted the ball back to their opponents with poor passing.
The first real chance of the game went the way of the home side and came from a set-piece in the 13th minute. Tangeni Shipahu curled a 22-yard free-kick around the Celtic defensive wall, but just inches over the crossbar.
Thereafter, however, Celtic saw the better of the play as they started to find their rhythm in the middle of the park and began creating some space behind the AmaZulu defence. Still, though, the Phunya Sele Sele were unable to create any decent chances on goal.
That was until the 20th minute when Hlompho Kekana tested AmaZulu’s keeper, Mbongeni Mzimela, with a 30-yard pile-driver. The keeper, though, was up to the challenge and made a good save diving to his left.
Then, somewhat against the run of play, after Celtic failed to clear a cross from the right wing, Ntokozo Sikhakhane latched onto the loose ball inside the box and fired it home from ten yards out to give the Usuthu the lead in the 27th minute.
The goal seemed to take the wind from the Celtic sails and consequently the half filtered out with nothing more exciting happening.
The second half started very slowly, with both teams missing scoring chances. Celtic finally found the net in the 72nd minute, through substitute Nathan Paulse, who unleashed a beautiful strike from 25-yards out. – psl.co.za, Backpagepix
Tlou Segolela scored Pirates’ first goal in the first half, before setting up Andile Jali to score the second in the second half to secure all the three points on offer.
For his splendid performance, Segolela walked away with the man of the match award.
Pirates are on top of the table with 35 points after 17 games.
Playing in hot weather conditions, the first real chance of the game came in the fifth minute when Isaac Chansa played a one-two with Thulasizwe Mbuyane, but the latter directed his shot straight into the hands of Kennedy Mweene.
The 17th minute brought the stadium to its feet when after dispossessing Free State Stars, Tlou Segolela made a solo run from Pirates’ half and zoomed past a cluster of Stars’ players before beating Kennedy Mweene with a low shot to give the visitors the lead.
The goal did wonders for the game as Free State Stars were forced to come out of slumberland and try some attacking options. Their main problem on the day was not their failure to create clear cut scoring opportunities, but also how to get past Rooi Mahamutsa and company in the Pirates’ defence.
It must be said Pirates must have done their home work as they quickly closed their opponents down, not allowing them enough time to play the ball.
The first half was clearly Pirates’ but they could not convert the numerous chances created.
Tlou Segolela nearly got his second for the day, but after a beautiful chip in the 38th minute, the player nicknamed “Speedy Gonzalez” could only watch in disbelief when his attempt hit the cross bar.
The pattern of the game was much the same after the break with Pirates pressing hard for the second while Free State Stars hung on.
Sensing danger, Free State Stars’ coach, Steve Khompela introduced Noah Chivuta and Thabane Motaung in place of Manti Moholo and Matome Madimabe and the move nearly paid dividends as Stars pushed forward and forced Pirates to commit mistakes.
This was obvious when under pressure, Pirates’ Rooi Mahamutsa failed to clear the ball but with only Moeneeb Josephs to beat, Madoda Motha directed his shot wide in the 62nd minute. The latter was replaced by Mxolisi Gumede two minutes later.
Tlou Segolela who was a thorn and a total nuisance to the Free State State Stars’ backline, again managed to outrun a defender before delivering a pass of supreme brilliance to Andile Jali in the Stars’ six yard box for the latter to score Pirates’ second goal in the 84th minute to secure the three points for his team.