Thembinkosi Lorch saves the day for Bucs
Chiefs toss away a good chance to beat their Soweto rivals
Kaizer Chiefs wasted a chance to arrest their recent poor record against their Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates when they gave away a lead, with 10 minutes to go, to share the spoils at a packed FNB Stadium yesterday.
Daniel Cardoso's penalty had given Chiefs a 1-0 lead in the 53rd minute but a mistake in the middle of the park by Pule Ekstein helped Pirates find the equaliser through Thembinkosi Lorch.
This was Lorch's third goal in the last four matches between the sides, this time benefitting from Ben Mtshwari's inch-perfect pass before he rounded Daniel Akpeyi, a derby debutant, in Chiefs' goals.
Chiefs earned a spot kick when striker Khama Billiat was needlessly brought down in the area by Bucs right back Asavela Mbekile in the 51st minute.
On chances created, Amakhosi deserved to win their first derby in 12 matches against a Pirates side which never got out of the blocks, with their attacking players hardly testing Akpeyi in both halves.
Amakhosi had come to the encounter as heavy underdogs after suffering three successive losses against their nemesis in 2018.
But from early exchanges it was clear that Ernst Middendorp's side was up to the challenge in the 166th Soweto derby with a year away from celebrating its 50th anniversary.
In the big scheme of things, though, the biggest winner was Mamelodi Sundowns who were on a Caf Champions League mission in Ivory Coast.
The Brazilians were not only helped by this result, but log leaders Bidvest Wits also got a 2-1 defeat away to Highlands Park in Makhulong Stadium.
A victory for Pirates would have seen Pitso Mosimane's side overtaken in second position on the log but they now still trail Wits by three points with three games in hand.
Sundowns meet Wits on February 23 at Milpark in what will be an eagerly awaited encounter after yesterday's results.
Chiefs looked sharp and threatening in the early exchanges with Billiat close to scoring as early as the third minute when his fierce shot was parried for a corner by Wayne Sandilands, a surprise start for Bucs.
Middendorp sprang surprises in his starting XI, the chief being Nigerian-born Akpeyi in his first Soweto derby.
The German also preferred 21-year-old winger Happy Mashiane, who made his second league start, instead of more experienced Philani Zulu or Sphelele Ntshangase, both on the bench with Willard Katsande.
Katsande's omission was the most unexpected as the Zimbabwean midfield grafter is one of the most experienced Amakhosi players in the Soweto derby, having been an ever-present since joining Chiefs in 2011-12.
Akpeyi's inclusion came as no big shock though, given the struggles of Namibian shot stopper Virgil Vries in the absence of injured skipper Itumeleng Khune.
So irked Middendorp was at Vries's costly howlers in the two league games Chiefs lost against Mamelodi Sundowns (2-1) and Cape Town City (1-0) at this very venue that he tossed him up to the stands and instead put the inexperienced Bruce Bvuma on the bench as Akpeyi's possible replacement.
Kaizer Chiefs(0) 1
Orlando Pirates(0) 1
GOALS: Kaizer Chiefs - Daniel Cardoso (53m penalty); Orlando Pirates - Thembinkosi Lorch (80m)..