Pirates beat Arrows to move to second spot
Luvuyo Memela appears to be the piece of the puzzle that Orlando Pirates dearly missed in 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-placed 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 on Saturday night.
The Buccaneers victory was made more sweeter by the other results by the other title chasers 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 2011-12 season.
Justin Shonga’s fifth goal of the season helped Pirates to keep their hopes alive with eight games to go for them.
Sundowns still have an advantage of a one 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 for 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 Wyane Sandilands very busy, especially in the first half.
Memela provided the assist to Shonga in the 20th minute and the Zambian striker did brilliantly to carve out the space for himself before curling in 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 the 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 the clean sheet for the very first time in four months, could have won this match with a better 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 Arrows dugout, this was his second defeat in seven games since he arrived in January and it means more 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 the tenth spot and four points away from the eight spot.
But with a few points picked in the remaining eight games, they too can still move up the table.