GOALS from Helder Pelembe and Kermit Erasmus helped Orlando Pirates come from a goal down to defeat Bidvest Wits 2-1 in an Absa Premiership tie at Orlando Stadium.
Sibusiso Vilakazi opened the scoring for the visitors, but a spirited fight back from Bucs saw them earn full points.
Eric Tinkler, standing in as Orlando Pirates interim coach after Roger De Sa’s resignation, started with Helder Pelembe in attack with Khetho Masuku and Aubrey Ngoma out wide.
On the bench Tinkler left experienced players Daine Klate, Lennox Bacela, Sifiso Myeni and Kermit Erasmus.
For Bidvest Wits, coach Gavin Hunt gave a start to striker Sthembiso Ngcobo, who joined from Kaizer Chiefs via AmaZulu where he had been on loan.
In the opening minute Bucs nearly scored from a corner kick when Lehlohonolo Masalesa got free at the far post only to put his half volley way over the crossbar while leaning back and slightly off balance.
Nine minutes into the game and Aubrey Ngoma glides past a defender before getting into a good position, but his shot is straight at Moeneeb Josephs.
Just a minute later and Bidvest Wits had a chance to score when Sibusiso Vilakazi got in a low near post cross, but Ngcobo was well marshalled by the Pirates defence and the danger was averted.
In the 18th minute Khetho Masuku drive a long range shot over the bar after some good close control, which found him a bit of space from which to shoot.
Two minutes later the opening goal arrived when skipper Sibusiso Vilakazi did really well to sneak in front of his marker at near post to connect with a cross from Siyabonga Nhlapo. It was a simple goal where Nhlapo played a first time cross into the danger area which started from throw-in.
Moeneeb Josephs made a great save in the 27th minute to deny Pelembe who drove in a first time shot after some great work by Happy Jele on the right wing.
A few minutes later, Pelembe flicked on a header to put Aubrey Ngoma through on goal but he dragged his shot wide of the post.
Josephs made another good save just after the half hour mark when he pushed away a powerful drive from Masuku.
The first real chance of the second half came in the 50th minute when Jele, on the overlap, blasted way over the bar after Masuku had created space inside the danger area.
Then Pirates found the equaliser when Helder Pelembe pounced at the near post to direct a header to the far post, which looped over Josephs. Good goal by the new man!
Bucs found a second goal in the 73rd minute through substitute Kermit Erasmus who headed in from close range following some brilliant work by Thabo Matlaba who beat his man to cross in from the left. Masuku deserves credit too, for a perfect diagonal ball to find Matlaba in space.
Pirates began to grow in confidence with Masuku involved in everything while Manyisa and Ntshumayelo got stuck into the midfield battles.
Substitute Kebebe saw a glancing header go wide late in the game from Nhlapo’s cross while Josephs saved from a free kick in the dying seconds, as Pirates were able to hang on and take the full points.
In the other league matches played tonight AmaZulu beat Ajax Cape Town 1-0 while in Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium, Platinum Stars came from a 2-0 deficit to force a 2-2 draw with Polokwane City.
Orlando Pirates (0) 2 (Pelembe 56’ Erasmus 73’)
Bidvest Wits (1) 1 (Vilakazi 20’)
Orlando Pirates: Meyiwa, Matlaba, Jele, Lekgwathi, Gcaba, Masalesa (Erasmus 46’), Ntshumayelo, Manyisa, Ngoma (Myeni 56’), Masuku (Makola 86’), Pelembe
Bidvest Wits: Josephs, Booth (Dankwae 64’), Pattison (Kebebe 78’), Kadi, Vilakazi, Isaacs (Madubanya 61’), Faty, Ngcobo, Nhlapo, Bhasera, Mngonyama.-Backpage TXT