HAPPY Jele scored three minutes into added time to spare Orlando Pirates a first home defeat of the season as they drew 1-1 in the original Soweto derby with Moroka Swallows on Wednesday night.
The Birds looked destined for a 1-0 win thanks to David Mathebula’s magnificent first half strike, but a victory that would have lifted them into second place on the standings was denied by the Buccaneers’ persistence and Jele’s last-gasp heroics.
After a quiet opening quarter hour in which both teams struggled to find their rhythm, Pirates suddenly created an opening to put striker Bongani Ndulula one-on-one with Greg Etafia but the goalkeeper made an excellent save with his feet.
Pirates looked solid in defence but on 21 minutes they were forced into an unscheduled change when left-back Ruben Cloete was withdrawn due to injury. Youngster Sibusiso Mxoyana came on and looked a bundle of nerves, which saw Bucs’ defensive stability severely compromised.
On the half hour mark Swallows took advantage, with midfielder David Mathebula scoring a contender for goal of the season – a long rang screamer that gave Moeneeb Josephs absolutely no chance of a save.
Swallows looked the likelier scorers in what remained of the first half but they were unable to add to their advantage, leaving the game 1-0 in their favour at the interval.
The second half saw Swallows withdraw into a more defensive mode as they looked to hit Pirates on the counter attack as the hosts inevitable began to throw more and more men forward in an effort to get back on level terms.
Yet Bucs did create some good openings, particularly with just ten minutes to play when a great low cross from Tlou Segolela handed substitute Tukelo Rantie a chance he almost couldn’t miss… yet somehow he did.
Fortunately for the youngster his miss didn’t prove too costly, as Jele headed from close range in the dying seconds from a scuffed cross/shot by Segolela. It was harsh on the Birds, who arguably deserved all three points for their controlled performance, but it simply wasn’t meant to be.
Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Jele 90+3’)
Moroka Swallows (1) 1 (Mathebula 30’)
Pirates: Josephs; Jele, Mahamutsa, Sangweni, Cloete (Mxoyana 21’), Segolela, Mhlongo (Mnguni 70’), Manyisa, Bester, Chansa, Ndulula (Rantie 56’)
Swallows: Etafia; Isaacs, Hendricks, Mungomeni, Lekgothoane, Makhanya (Mapemba 62’), Nergadze, Tsutsulupa, Mathebula (Sibaya 90+2’), Chabangu, Nomvethe (Maleka 81’)
The rest of the Absa Premiership results are: AmaZulu 2 v Golden Arrows 1, Platinum Stars 0 v Mamelodi Sundowns 0 and Ajax Cape Town 0 v BidVest Wits 2-Backpagepix