Pirates through to the Nedbank Cup semi finals

Orlando Pirates completed the semi final line-up of the 2011 Nedbank Cup, defeating Free State Stars 1-0 in at the Orlando Stadium today.

Bucs, who had to play the last third of the game with just ten men after the dismissal of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, scored the only goal through defender Happy Jele early in the second half. They will play Mpumalanga Black Aces at home while giant killers Baroka FC play Black Leopards in the Limpopo derby.

After a scrappy opening, Pirates came to life around the midway point of the first half. Francis Chansa and Happy Jele both tried their hand at long range efforts that were easily saved by goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, while Chiukepo Msowoya had a penalty appeal turned down by referee Victor Hlungwani.

Stars’ Noah Chivuta came close to breaking the deadlock in the 28th minute with a cheeky chip from long range that carried just over Senzo Meyiwa’s crossbar and brushed the top of the netting.

On 36 minutes Bucs created the best chance of the first half, with a ball over the top sending Thulasizwe Mbuyane free down the left of the penalty area. Sadly for the home fans, the attacker scuffed a low shot wide of the mark when a square pass for Chansa would have handed the Zambian a virtual tap-in.

Just before the break Pirates twice tested Mweene through Msowoya and Mbuyane; the latter effort was a stinging turn-and-volley that forced the Ea Lla Koto goalie into a wonderfully acrobatic save.

Bucs’ perseverance was rewarded nine minutes after the restart when Happy Jele continued his great form by putting the hosts 1-0 up. A 54th minute Dikgang Mabalane corner kick was cleared straight back to the winger, whose second cross to the near post was glanced home by the unmarked Jele.

Pirates seemed to be in the driving seat but just past the hour mark they were reduced to ten men. Stars slipped Noah Chivuta through on goal and Meyiwa sprinted off his line and tripped up the attacker just outside the penalty area; referee Hlungwani had no choice but to show a red card to the ‘keeper, who had denied a clear goal scoring opportunity.

Bucs brought on third-choice goalkeeper Jacob Mokhasi, sacrificing Msowoya up front. The new man between the posts made a terrific last-gasp save in the 74th minute, somehow denying Madoda Motha when the Stars striker looked certain to force the ball over the goal line from close range.

Stars, with a man’s advantage, dominated possession in the latter stages, though it was Pirates, through the pace of Mabalane and substitute Tlou Segolela, that actually looked the likelier scorers.-Backpagepix

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