SuperSport dent Pirates' title hopes

MORGAN Gould proved a key player at both ends of the field as SuperSport United dealt Orlando Pirates’ Absa Premiership title hopes a massive blow with a 1-0 win at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Saturday evening.

The Bafana Bafana centre-back scored the only goal of the game in the first half and provided a masterclass in the art of defending in the second as Matsatsantsa prevented the Buccaneers from reclaiming top spot in the league standings.

Pirates came into the game missing several key players through suspension and injury, though they were still able to field a powerful line-up featuring searing pace on the flanks in the shape of Tlou Segolela and Dikgang Mabalane.

SuperSport went with an attacking line-up themselves, though there were question marks over their fullbacks, with Davies Nkausu starting his first league match for over a year and youngster Tebogo Langerman shoehorned into the problem left-back slot.

The first 28 minutes saw little in the way of scoring chances, with the defences very much on top. However, almost out of nowhere, SuperSport broke the deadlock when Morgan Gould got up highest in the penalty area to head home from a free kick.

Pirates’ defenders were culpable for not marking the United dangerman close enough in the set piece situation, though third-choice goalkeeper Jacob Mokhasi should have made a better effort at saving the downward header.

The Buccaneers dominated the rest of the first half but rarely threatened. Rooi Mamahutsa got his head on a corner kick in the 37th minute but his effort travelled high over the bar.

Tlou Segolela also forced Rowen Fernandez into a fumble with a long range shot just before the break, but the United defence reacted quickest to the loose ball to ensure the half ended with their team one goal to the good.

Pirates’ frustrations continued in the second half. They dominated possession but SuperSport’s defence, marshalled superbly by Man of the Match Gould, proved too stubborn an obstacle for the Soweto giants.

Not that Ruud Krol’s side didn’t create chances. Substitute Mark Mayambela had two good opportunities – one on his stronger left foot and one a header – but he was unable to direct the ball on target from either chance.

But the real crucial moment arrived in the 66th minute. A free kick thumped hopefully into the SuperSport box fell kindly for Happy Jele, but the defender was unable to continue his impressive scoring form, as Fernandez made a superb point-blank save.

The result leaves Pirates in second place, three points adrift of leaders Ajax Cape Town. SuperSport are in ninth place and now have a good chance of at least salvaging a top half finish in what has been an otherwise disappointing season.

Orlando Pirates 0
SuperSport United (1) 1 (Gould 28’)

Other results are: Moroka Swallows 3 v Free State Stars 1, Bloemfontein 4 v Bid Vests Wits 1, Santos 4 v Golden Arrows 3 and Vasco da Gama 3 v Platinum Stars 5.-Backpagepix

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