Orlando Pirates got back to winning ways in the DStv Premiership with a 1-0 triumph away to Royal AM on Wednesday night.
Pirates made three changes from their late defeat against Chippa United, as Miguel Timm got his first start alongside recalls for Kabelo Dlamini and Bienvenu Eva Nga while Royal AM gave shot-stopper Zakhele Ngcobo a start in place of injured goalkeeper Hugo Nyame.
Thwihli Thwahla got off to a quick start as they got behind the Buccaneers defence, with Tebogo Potsane proving problematic but goalkeeper Richard Ofori came to the rescue a couple of times.
Jose Riveiro’s charges tried to build from the back but they struggled to find combinations in the last third, as Eva Nga often dropped deep to be part of play.
However, the visitors eventually broke the deadlock 11 minutes before the halftime break after Deon Hotto connected with Thabiso Monyane’s cut-back in the centre of the box with a clinical low strike past Ngcobo.
The fading phase of the first stanza remained hotly contested between the sides, as Thwihli Thwihli looked for quick passing and movement going forward but Pirates closed them down quickly.
Pirates were forceful in the early exchanges of the first stanza as they threatened to double their lead but without any rewards, Riveiro made a change on the hour-mark as Vincent Pule replaced Kabelo Dlamini.
Pule came close to getting the insurance goal for the Buccaneers just after coming on with a diagonal free-kick that was dipping but Ngcobo made a good acrobatic save.
The visitors injected new energy on the park in the last quarter of an hour with a triple substitution, as Paseka Mako, Bandile Shandu and Kwape Peprah entered the fray.
However, Pirates continued to defend with numbers behind the ball as Royal AM maintained the rhythm of their attacks and an error in the box nearly led to the equaliser in the dying minutes but Thikazi fluffed the one-on-one opportunity with goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
Thwihli Thwahla were reduced to ten men in stoppages after Shadrack Kobedi was sent off for picking up his second yellow card, as the Buccaneers held on to claim their second win and moved up to fourth on the table.
Here’s how they lined up:
Royal AM: Ngcobo, Nascimento, Matlaba, Manganyi, Phalane, Mahlasela, De Jong, Kobedi, Potsane, Mogaila, George.
Subs: Macuphu, Ncobeni, Ndlovu, Masuku, Gamildien, Thikazi, Cele, Msomi, Mpoto.
Orlando Pirates: Ofori, Ndah, Sibisi, Maela, Monyane, Mosele, Timm, Hotto, Lorch, Dlamini, Lorch, Eva Nga.
Subs: Mpontshane, Xoki, Shandu, Mako, Monare, Motshwari, Makgaka, Pule, Peprah