Soccer

Justin Shonga's goal wins it for Bucs

03 March 2019 - 00:00 By SAZI HADEBE


Luvuyo Memela appears to be the piece of the puzzle that Orlando Pirates missed for the better part of this season.
With Memela starting his second match after a lengthy lay-off due to a knee injury, the Buccaneers moved to second place on the Absa Premiership table after winning their second successive league game 1-0 away to Golden Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium on the west side of Durban last night.
The Buccaneers victory was made sweeter by the results of the other title chasing teams going their way.
Pacesetters Mamelodi Sundowns had floundered earlier in the day with their 0-0 draw at home to Bloemfontein Celtic and Bidvest Wits suffered a shock 2-3 home defeat to Cape Town City, gifting Bucs a greater opportunity to fight for their first league title since the 2011-12 season.
Justin Shonga's fifth goal of the season helped Pirates to keep their hopes alive with eight games to go.
Sundowns still have the advantage of a game in hand but this will pale into nothing if they fail to collect full points against City in Cape Town on Tuesday, the day Pirates might climb to the top of the log if they beat Celtic at home.
Just as he did when he started in Bucs' 4-1 home win over AmaZulu FC last weekend, Memela was a great link between the Bucs midfield and strikers against an Arrows side that kept the visitors goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands on his toes, especially in the first half.
Memela provided the assist for Shonga in the 20th minute and the Zambian striker did brilliantly to carve out space for himself before curling the ball past a bemused Nkosingiphile Gumede in Arrows' goals.
Unlike in the first-round match which ended in a frustrating 0-0 stalemate for Bucs at Orlando Stadium, this was always going to be an open encounter with both sides looking to strengthen their positions on the log.
Pirates, who kept a clean sheet for the first time in four months, could have won this match by a bigger margin as Shonga, wingers Thembinkosi Lorch and Vincent Pule had more than enough chances to add to their league goal tally.
For Steve Komphela in the Arrows dugout, it was his second defeat in seven games since he arrived in January.
It means greater effort will be needed from his side if they are to earn a place in the top eight.
With this defeat, the seventh of the season, Abafana Bes'thende remain rooted on 10th spot and four points away from the eighth spot. But with a few points picked up in the remaining eight games, they too, can still move up the table.
Golden Arrows - (0) 0
Orlando Pirates - (1) 1
GOAL: Pirates - Justin Shonga (20m)

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