Orlando Pirates reclaimed the fourth spot in the DStv Premiership after edging Maritzburg United 1-0 on Saturday evening.
Pirates made three changes, with Innocent Maela and Deon Hotto brought back to the line-up while youngster Azola Tshobeni was handed a debut. Meanwhile, United was bolstered by the return of Rushine De Reuck, Kwandakwensizwa Mngonyama and Daniel Morgan.
Maritzburg goalkeeper Bongani Mpandle was shaky in the early exchanges, spilling long-range shots from Pirates and in the 21st minute Thabang Monare unleashed another rocket from range that saile narrowly wide of the top corner.
Josef Zinnbauer’s charges had a good passage of play in the 33rd minute after Bongani Sam went clear on goal on the left side of the box but his shot was quickly blocked by the recovering defence.
Hotto eventually broke the deadlock for the Buccaneers five minutes before the break with a tap-in at the back post after a teasing cross by Sam.
Pirates kept their shape coming from the break, not allowing Maritzburg spaces behind the defence but they were not threatening on counter-attacks.
However, Ernst Middendorp’s men were putting the Buccaneers under pressure and in the last quarter of an hour Zinnbauer made a double change, as Motshwari and Siphesihle Ndlovu came on in places of Fortune Makaringe and Tshobeni.
Thembinkosi Lorch came close to sealing the deal for the Soweto giants in the last eight minutes with a first-time looping strike from Vincent Pule’s cut-back that sailed slightly over the bar.
Sibusiso Hlubi came close to snatching an equaliser for United in stoppage time after going through inside the box but his low shot was saved by goalkeeper Richard Ofori at the near post and Pirates held on to a narrow win that saw them reclaim the fourth spot on the table.
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