Free State Stars beat Orlando Pirates 1-0 an enthralling Absa Premiership match at Goble Park on Wednesday night.
Ayanda Nkosi’s 80th-minute goal helped the seventh-placed Stars to record their seventh win of the season, while the 11th-placed Pirates slumped to their eighth defeat of the campaign.
While Pirates dominated the match from the first whistle, the home side had the first shot on goal in the eighth minute. Nhlanhla Vilakazi managed to get free down the left flank and put in an inviting cross. The ball was then headed towards the Pirates goal, but Bucs defender Ayanda Gcaba did well to clear the danger.
Pirates were on top for most of the first half and again created a plethora of chances. But, like in their previous matches, they just couldn’t get the ball into the back of the net.
Thabo Rakhale managed to get a low shot off in the 11th minute. Stars goalkeeper Daouda Diakite managed to get a hand in the ball, but unfortunately for Pirates they just couldn’t get the rebound into the back of the net.
Pirates captain Thabo Matlaba, who was doing duty on the right back, was very influential in the first half. The Bafana Bafana defender came close to opening the scoring in the 20th minute when he drove into the Stars box and shot wide.
Stars then almost paid the price for shocking defending a minute later when their captain Paulus Masehe gifted the ball to Pirates striker Thamsanqa Gabuza. Gabuza found himself one-on-one with the Stars goalkeeper, but Diakite managed to get down to save his left-footed shot.
Sello Japhta was again one of Stars’ most dangerous players, and produced a low shot in the 37th minute. However, Pirates goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo managed to deal with the danger.
Matlaba then had another chance 10 minutes from the break when he cut inside to get a shot off. However, he couldn’t keep his effort down.
The second half, though, belonged to Nkosi, who was a thorn in the Pirates side after the break. He went close after a long throw in the 50th minute, which had the Pirates defender at sixes and sevens.
Mhlongo then produced the best save of the night in the 64th minute when he managed to get a hand on Stars’ Makhehlene Makhaula’s stinging drive to avert the danger.
The Bucs shot-stopper produced another great reflex save in the 78th minute after an Nkosi bicycle-kick. But he couldn’t do anything when Nkosi opened the scoring two minutes later, when headed home after a lovely ball into the area by Danny Venter.
Pirates’ substitute striker Lehlohonolo Majoro then came close to levelling matters in the 83rd minute, but Masehe made a crucial clearance off the line to earn his team the three points.
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