Orlando Pirates looked set for a crucial win away to Bloemfontein Celtic at the Seisa Ramabodu Stadium on Sunday afternoon, but their own employer in the shape of on-loan Siphelele Mthembu and former player Bennett Chenene combined to salvage a 1-1 draw for the home team.
Katlego Mashego had put Bucs on their way to a victory that would have taken them a giant step closer to the league title, but Mthembu had the last laugh against his parent club with an equalising goal in the 81st minute to ensure the game ended on level terms.
The result sees Phunya Sele Sele and Pirates retain their unbeaten records at and away from home respectively. Each side also added to their lengthy unbeaten streaks.
The first notable action of the game saw Ruben Cloete test Celtic’s Patrick Tignyemb with a stinging long range free kick in the 11th minute that forced the goalkeeper into a good save low to his right-hand side.
Bucs weren’t really able to create any clear scoring chances in the first half, though they certainly looked threatening with their shooting prowess from long range.
Oupa Manyisa fired a dipping effort just wide of the target in the 17th minute and eight minutes later Andile Jali rattled the underside of the crossbar with a superb drive from 25 metres out that had Tignyemb beaten all ends up.
Celtic had enjoyed their fair share of possession but didn’t threaten a goal until injury time at the end of the first half when a determined run from Lennox Bacela saw the striker rewarded with a clear sight of goal, but he sliced his effort wide with only Senzo Meyiwa to beat.
The second half was much of the same, with the teams looking to attack but struggling to create genuine opportunities.
Then, in the 72nd minute, Pirates broke the deadlock almost from nowhere. Bucs strung together an attack and for once the Celtic defence was all at sea, Katlego Mashego cut back onto his left foot and scored with a deflection off Thabo Nthethe.
Celtic coach Clinton Larsen reacted to going behind by throwing on Chenene and Mthembu, and the players repaid their coach’s faith almost immediately.
The pair combined to bring Phunya Sele Sele level in the 81st minute, with Chenene playing in a low cross from the left and Mthembu providing a composed and classy finish.
Both sides had spells in what remained of the game when they looked like possibly scoring a late winner, but in the end the final whistle saw the match locked at 1-1.-Backpagepix