PIRATES picked up where they left off from Saturday’s derby win over Kaizer Chiefs to go at Ajax Cape Town from the start and scored early goals to set up a 2-1 victory at Cape Town Stadium in one of several league games played last night.
Ultimately, Pirates had to hang on as they tired after their weekend exertions, allowing Ajax back into the game, but they deserved the three-point haul and are now up to ninth place in the Premier Soccer League standings.
Bucs missed a myriad chances, while Ajax were denied by the woodwork in their search for an equaliser in their first game since the death of fullback Cecil Lolo.
There will, however, not be much chance for Bucs to rest before they meet Kaizer Chiefs again on Saturday.
Nathan Paulse was the first to cause some trouble for the opposing defence last night, having a good effort blocked by a brave header from Edwin Gyimah after just four minutes, but from then on it was Pirates who quickly picked up the pace.
Thabo Rakhale beat the offside trap, but missed the target in the 10th minute with his attempted chip over the Ajax keeper, Jodi February, who was standing in for suspended Anssi Jaakkola.
Menzi Masuku — coming in to allow Pirates to rest players before Saturday’s Telkom Knockout semifinal — was set up by Kermit Erasmus, but missed.
Another slick build-up ended with a superb cross from Ntsikelelo Nyauza, expertly steered into the net by Erasmus, who rose at the far post for an 18th-minute lead.
Ajax kept being caught by their high line and a superb pass from Thandani Ntshumayelo put Lehlohonolo Majoro one-on-one with the ’keeper and he did not disappoint for his first goal of the season.
But the 2-0 lead for the visitors lasted all of four minutes as Riyaad Norodien’s trickery pulled the ball back and Pirates defender Gyimah looked to have the last touch as he steered it past his own ’keeper, although it might also have come off the knee of Toriq Losper, who would want to claim, however unwitting his contribution.
Meanwhile, Mamelodi Sundowns continued their dominance over Chippa United with a narrow 1-0 victory at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.
An own-goal from Chippa’s Thabang Thopola in the 67th minute separated the teams on a night that could have seen the result go either way.
The win means Downs have not lost to the Chilli Boys in five PSL encounters. It also saw Sundowns top the league table, with 20 points from 10 games.
Chippa put it all out there and got nothing out of it. They were certainly not disgraced on the night, but it was Sundowns who marched back to Pretoria with the three points.
The firsthalf showed little spark with a few clear chances throughout the 45 minutes, which ended at 0-0. Chippa took the game to the visitors. Their first attempt came just three minutes into the game, with Rhulani Manzini’s strike going wide. William Twala received a pass from Lerato Chabangu in the 6th minute, but his attempt went sailing over the bar.
Seven minutes later, Buyani Sali tried his luck at goal, but his shot went straight at Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
The Brazilians’ first attempt of the game came from Ramahlwe Mphahlele, but his strike also went wide.
Downs’ Mogakolodi Ngele attempted a long-range strike from outside the box, but it found the waiting arms of Chippa’s keeper Daniel Akpeyi.
At Royal Bafokeng Stadium, someone should have warned Platinum Stars coach Cavin Johnson not to accept the coach of the month award.
Two days after winning the award for the club’s run of three wins and a draw in September and October, Dikwena suffered their first defeat of the season here last night. They were hammered 4-0 by ruthless Bidvest Wits.
This is what usually happens to coaches, and players who win the award, and Johnson will be hoping this is not the beginning of some lean times for his side.