Orlando Pirates’ good form this year continued as they outclassed Bidvest Wits in an action-packed Absa Premiership encounter at the Bidvest Stadium on Saturday. The Mighty Bucs won 2-0 and are third on
the log, two points behind the leaders SuperSport United and are definitely league title contenders.
Wits former player Benson Mhlongo scored in the 42nd minute after some mesmerising work down the left by Teko Modise, and man-of-the-match Katlego Mashego sealed the win with a superb finish in the 81st minute after an unforced error by Wits left-back Patrick Phungwayo.
With the 2010 Fifa World Cup just over 500 days away, it’s matches like this that will get the crowds streaming into the stadiums. There were excellent saves, robust defending, slick passing and a classic
midfield duel between Pirates number seven Joseph Kamwendo and Wits captain Sibusiso Mahlangu.
The majority Pirates crowd added colour and noise to the usually quiet surroundings and urged their players on throughout the 90 minutes.
Wits started better and pressed their visitors back with Fabricio Rodrigues hitting a free kick straight at Moeneeb Josephs and Dale Studzinski flashing a header wide within the first 10 minutes.
At the other end, Wits rookie keeper Darren Keet denied mercurial winger Dikgang Mabalane a chance to score in the 35th, the rebound fell to Mashego but he took too long to strike and a Wits defender came
sliding in to deflect his shot for a corner. Kamwendo dictated terms in the middle of the park, working tirelessly to get his team forward while Modise provided width down the left flank.
The Bafana Bafana midfielder skinned Rodrigues and Mahlangu down the left and put the ball on Mhlongo’s head who could not miss from seven yards out.
Pirates took their slender lead into the break to the
delight of their fans.
Wits playmaker Marawaan Bantam came on for the Brazilian Rodrigues at the start of the second half with the hosts clearly looking for more penetration upfront.
Kamwendo, who worked tirelessly in midfield, was taken off at the hour mark. The Malawian received rapturous applause from the ”Ghost” who obviously appreciated the way he controlled the game.
Wits fought hard to get back into the match and Bantam brought out a fine save from Josephs who threw himself in the way of the rocket-like shot which was goal bound.
While Wits attacked frantically, Pirates remained composed passing the ball around comfortably on a pitch badly damaged in certain areas.
The saw-dust filled holes did not deter Mabalane, Mashego or Modise from turning on the style to the delight of their fans and the frustration of the Wits players.
Wits defender Ashraf Hendricks got a red card for bringing down Modise outside the big box and Bucs made their one-man advantage count. Mashego dropped deep and spread the ball around with ease while Wits chased shadows and Pirates’ one-touch
football delighted the appreciative crowd.
The Bucs were patiently looking for another goal and when Phungwayo hastily tried to clear a harmless cross it fell into Mashego’s path who made no mistake with a precise first-time finish. – Sapa