Sundowns, Pirates share spoils

THE top-of-the-table Absa Premiership clash between Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates ended in a disappointing goalless draw at Loftus Stadium on Tuesday night.

Though the match was on the whole an entertaining one, both teams will be gutted at having missed out on the chance to give their title hopes a major boost. Instead the status quo remains, with the Brazilians four points clear of the second-placed Buccaneers.

Sundowns enjoyed the greater share of possession in the first half, though it was Pirates who arguably looked the more dangerous side early on, as the pace of Ndumiso Mabena and Tlou Segolela clearly had the Brazilians’ defence worried.

The home side created a few half chances in attack – with Hlompho Kekana in particular looking dangerous on a couple of occasions with long-range strikes – but the closest they came in the first half was a Teko Modise free kick in the 39th minute that hit the crossbar after Moeneeb Josephs had misjudged the flight of the ball in the air.

A few minutes earlier Pirates’ wingers had almost combined to open the scoring: Tlou Segolela’s cross was met by Daine Klate at the far post, but the former SuperSport United man saw his first-time volley crash into the side netting.

The half ended on something of a fractious note after Andile Jali had thrust a hand into the face of Kekana as the two players challenged shoulder-to-shoulder. Jali was shown was a yellow card for his action, but a more strict referee than Lwandile Mfiki would have been within his rights to show a red.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with both teams creating chances but not quite having the cutting edge to put them away. Sundowns threatened first with a sharp turn and shot from Katlego Mphela that forced Josephs into a save at his near post.

A couple of minutes before the hour mark Pirates created the best chance of the match. Benni McCarthy combined with Segolela before surging past defenders and goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands and teeing up Klate, who skewed his shot well wide, though Sundowns had got three defenders back to cover the goal line.

The teams enjoyed further half chances in the remainder of the game, but the only real talking point came on 89 minutes when Bucs were reduced to 10 men. Andile Jali picked up his second yellow card for a trip on Teko Modise and was given his marching orders.

Sundowns weren’t able to capitalise on their numerical advantage in the dying minutes. In fact it was Pirates who almost snatched it at the death when Punch Masenamela deflected a cross just wide of goal, much to the relief of the home fans.

In another interesting league match, Moroka Swallows kept their hopes for the league title chase alive when they beat relegation threatened, Jomo Cosmos 2-0 at the Sinaba Stadium yesterday. The recharged David “DVD” Mathebula score both the goals to increase his tally to eight goals, two behind leading goal-scores Siyabonga “Bhele” Nomvethe and Katlego “Killer” Mphela. The victory saw Swallows moved to the third position on the log with 37 points (same as Pirates). At the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, AmaZulu beat BidVest Wits 2-0.

Sundowns:

Sandilands; Ngubane, Daniels, Xulu, Masenamela, Modise, Kekana, Moriri, Pelembe (Mokoena 68’), Mphela (Mushekwi 84’), Laffor

Pirates:

Jospehs; Nzunga, Mahamutsa, Sangweni, Matlaba, Segolela, Manyisa, Jali, Klate (Mabalane 81’), Mabena (Chansa 70’), McCarthy (Rantie 90+4′)-

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