Wasteful Orlando Pirates drop two more points against Bloem Celtic

05 March 2019 - 21:37 By Marc Strydom at Orlando Stadium
Kudakwashe Mahachi of Orlando Pirates and Lantshene Phalane of Bloemfontein Celtic during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on March 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Kudakwashe Mahachi of Orlando Pirates and Lantshene Phalane of Bloemfontein Celtic during the Absa Premiership match between Orlando Pirates and Bloemfontein Celtic at Orlando Stadium on March 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Shivambu/Gallo Images

Again Orlando Pirates dropped points from a game they could as easily have won, being held to a 1-1 Absa Premiership draw by a Bloemfontein Celtic parking a bus and trailer at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night.

In the second half Celtic set out to defend centreback Tshepo Rikhotso's 37th-minute strike that had come in the first half against the run of play.

They survived plenty of scares, and substitute Luvuyo Memela managed a 79th-minute equaliser.

Pirates deserved more, but such clear opportunities needed to be taken to receive it.

In a jam-packed top five - where Cape Town City also beat Mamelodi Sundowns at Athlone Stadium on Tuesday - results such as these are preventing any of the front-runners from pulling ahead of the pack.

Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic, after a string of unconvincing results, has spoken of a new "punching power" from a 3-4-3 formation that resulted in a 4-1 win against AmaZulu at Orlando, then 1-0 away victory against Lamontville Golden Arrows.

Certainly, the quantity of skill and penetration that could be offered from wingbacks Vincent Pule and Kudakwashe Mahachi supporting a front three of Justin Shonga, Thembinkosi Lorch and Augustine Mulenga was formidable.

Despite this, Pirates managed only half-chances in the first half.

Celtic's goal came against the direction of play. Neo Maema's corner was not cleared, allowing Ndumiso Mabena to chest to the feet of Rikhotso, who spooned past Wayne Sandilands.

Coming out of the change rooms Celtic - not overly adventurous in the first half - were intent on defending the single-goal lead, at times not even committing numbers on the counterattack.

Pirates worked the ball around to penetrate the visitors' players behind the ball, and certainly had enough chances to have earned a win.

Shonga opened two good chances within 10 minutes of the break, forcing sharp saves from Patrick Tignyemb with a header and an awkwardly skidding shot.

In the 76th Pirates were inches from equalising on a slick, express counterattack, Lorch hitting the upright after being played in by a one-two with Thamsanqa Gabuza.

A goal had to come. It arrived from skill by Pule, skipping past two defenders then teeing up Memela, who had come on for Mulenga in the 59th, to roll a finish past Tignyemb.

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