Santos sink Bucs

Orlando Pirates’ unbeaten record was sunk by a hard-running Santos, who inflicted the first Absa Premiership defeat on Bucs this season by winning 1-0 at a rain-soaked Orlando Stadium on Saturday night.

Pirates have only themselves to blame as their goal-shy forwards could have played until next week and not scored. If Pirates are to remain title favourites, coach Ruud Krol is going to have to add
some punch into his attack.

Santos coach Boebie Solomons got his tactics spot on. He opted to defend and hit Bucs on the counter. Solomons has worked wonders with his team this season. The People’s Team now move to 18 points — one behind joint leaders Pirates and SuperSport United.

Santos were content to soak up the pressure and invite Pirates to attack.

Although Bucs dominated possession they never looked like threatening Santos during the first 45 minutes. Pirates created a few goal-scoring chances in the first 45 minutes — the first from a mistake by Santos defender Ricardo Skippers in the 32nd minute and even with this gift Terror Fanteni, with only goalkeeper Tshepo Motsoeneng to beat, fired his shot straight at the advancing keeper. Motsoeneng was outstanding and has blossomed since joining Solomons from SuperSport at the start of the season.

Two minutes later, Motsoeneng did well to block a blistering shot from Bucs striker Gert Schalkwyk.

At the other end, Santos striker Phikolethu Spelman missed a glorious chance to put the Cape side into the lead in the 37th minute when he beat the offside trap and, with only goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs to beat, Spelman failed to test Josephs by hitting his shot well wide of the goal.

Teko Modise, who again looked tired, did well a minute from halftime to beat his marker and get in a shot from a tight angle which hit the side netting.

The only goal came from a counterattack seconds later and once again the Pirates defence were caught sleeping. Spelman sent in a brilliant cross to make amends for his earlier miss to unmarked
Erwin Isaacs who easily stroked the ball past a stranded Josephs to give Santos a 1-0 lead.

What was disappointing about Pirates was that they failed to take the initiative in the first half and didn’t take the game to Santos, who looked content to defend and try and burgle a point.

Modise forced Motsoeneng to make a tremendous save from his 20m free kick two minutes into the second half as Bucs tried to raise their game.

Spelman headed wide from another counterattack in the 53rd minute. But Bucs missed three great chances within four minutes, the first of which came in the 72nd minute when Dikgang Mabalane
sent in a great cross from the right. Fanteni and defender Wayne Arendse went for the ball and somehow Santos’s luck held as the ball bounced off the woodwork.

Four minutes later, substitute Bennett Chenene laid the ball to Modise who returned the ball to Chenene and with Motsoeneng blocking his path the speedy Chenene tried to chip the ball into
the net but instead the ball inched past the woodwork.

More bad luck followed in the 79th minute when Lucas Thwala headed against the Santos crossbar.

Pirates threw everything forward in the last 10 minutes and were unlucky again in the 82nd minute when Fanteni’s shot missed the goal by a whisker as Santos started to buckle under the pressure.

Somehow the Cape side managed to withstand the pressure to go home with a memorable away win.

Krol stormed off the pitch at the final whistle to give his under-achieving players a piece of his mind. – Sapa

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