Soccer

Own goal sinks Wits against lucky Orlando Pirates

07 April 2019 - 00:00 By SAZI HADEBE


A Keagan Ritchie own goal right at the death gave Orlando Pirates one of their undeserved victories this season and perhaps revived their chances of wresting the Absa Premiership from defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
The win moved Pirates to 44 points, ahead of Sundowns on goal difference after Ritchie headed Luvuyo Memela's free kick into his own net.
The first half was a mixed bag of some shocking errors and misses by both sides. The second period was no better, with neither side upping the tempo right until Ritchie's unfortunate own goal.
Referee Victor Hlungwani was also not helping matters, blowing for almost each and every minimal contact.
That Hlungwani only produced four yellow cards, two for each team, was more a result of his overzealousness than the fact that there was much rough tackling to shout about.While it took Pirates 19 minutes to have their first shot in anger, it was the home side that should have opened the score with Ritchie, Gabadinho Mhango and Gift Motupa failing to punish the visitors when they had some clear chances inside the first 10 minutes of play.MISSED SHOTMhango did carve himself a good chance inside the referee's optional time in the first half, but his curling shot just missed Wayne Sandilands' post.With Thembinkosi Lorch suspended and Vincent Pule still injured, Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic was forced to give striker Thamsanqa Gabuza his first start since his last dramatic match against Black Leopards towards the end of August in which he left the field in frustration after being booed by Pirates supporters for missing many sitters.There were murmurs again from the Bucs faithful against Gabuza in this match when he missed two easy chances towards the end of the first half.In the second half the noise against Gabuza grew louder and it came as no surprise when his bench got him out of his misery when they replaced him with Thabo Qalinge in the 69th minute.Wits have dominated this fixture in the past three seasons but they couldn't follow up on their 1-0 away win in the first round, with coach Gavin Hunt guilty of starting the match without his talisman, Deon Hotto, who couldn't change the outcome after coming off the bench for the first time this season.Bidvest Wits 0Orlando Pirates(0) 1GOALS: Pirates - Keagan Ritchie (90m own goal)

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