Baroka deny Pirates top spot with frustrating draw

Orlando Stadium — Orlando Pirates could not undo a stubborn Baroka FC defence on Tuesday night as they laboured to a 1-1 draw at Orlando Stadium.

A share of the spoils means the home side missed out an the opportunity to go level with log leaders Bidvest Wits. It also denies their fans much sought after revenge against the side that beat them in the thrilling Telkom Knockout final last year.

The tone of the match was set from the first whistle as Milutin Sredojević’s men pushed, too often with little bite, and the visitors looked to soak it up and run down the clock.

The first half was of particular frustration for the Ghost. Spurned openings regularly interrupted their long stints with the ball as they did very little to threaten Elvis Chipezeze in goal.

It was a tone set from the first whistle as the ball was shared neatly by all in black. The early possession led to the first clear opening. Justin Shonga worked the space to get a square sight of the posts but sent the ball wide after rushing his shot; the Zambian no doubt would expect better of himself from that position.

Surviving the early scare allowed Baroka to settle and grab the lead soon after in the 13th minute. After Bakgaga were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box, Matome Mabeba looked to be stepping up as a decoy but instead proceeded to send a gorgeous left-footed curler into the top corner.

The surprise blow seemed to stun the Buccaneers and they swung widely to return in kind. Player after player lined up to shoot from outside the box but each effort found the stands or the advertising boards instead of the net.

It would be interesting to know what coach Wedson Nyirenda said in the dressing room because his payers would come out for the second half and deliver a masterclass in time wasting. Every opportunity they had to kill a few seconds and the game’s momentum they gleefully took.

As such, Pirates were again unable to fashion anything of worth to achieve parity.

Then just as it seemed we had our upset, Vincent Pule leapt to meet Augustine Mulenga’s devilish in-swinger to make it 1-1 in the 83rd minute.

Thamsanqa Gabuza, on the penalty spot, had the opportunity to win it in the dying minutes but steered his header wide of the post.

The draw does little for the Buccaneers but will be a vital point up in Limpopo. Sredojević, however, might have something to say about how his plans were ruthlessly disrupted with a healthy dose of play-acting.

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian

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