After three successive defeats to their arch-rivals Orlando Pirates, Kaizer Chiefs finally took something from the Buccaneers as the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in the fourth round at FNB Stadium earlier this afternoon.
It was a game of different intents, as Chiefs were looking to end the dominant streak while also giving their supporters something to cheer about following what has been a less pleasing season. Pirates on the other hand, were looking to keep their Absa Premiership title aspirations intact, while gearing up for their continental fixture on Tuesday against Esperance.
The opening minutes of the match were merely about discipline from each side – controlling possession and allowing the opponent to chase the ball. With both teams sharing a common enemy – their lack of a No 1 goalkeeper – that enabled their forwards to go in a quick search of the lead.
Khama Billiat, who got the opener the last time these two greats from Soweto played at this venue nearly repeated the same feat today but only to be denied by goalie Wayne Sandilands from close range. That save was a tiny drop to console the Bucs’ supporters that are still bemoaning the howler he caused in their one-all draw against a Highlands Park team that had zero shots on target in their opening match of the season.
The Ghosts signalled the substitution in quick successions after the former Mamelodi Sundowns’ shot-stopper failed to make a comfortable save from a diagonal ball from Kgotso Moleko. The teams might have gone into the interval with no goals but debutant Happy Mashiane, who played only 45 minutes of this game did done enough to motivate future footballers to start believing. The 21-year-old Mashiane, who was making his third start since his three-week stint of promotion from the reserves already has the club’s faithful eating from the palm of his hand.
Just like they’ve been doing in the past two weeks they chanted and waved him on whenever he was in possession of the ball. While the majority of the attention in the first half was going to Mashiane that gave another newbie Daniel Akpeyi a breather. Although Pirates tried to use their explosive forwards – which had Vincent Pule, Justin Shonga and Thembinkosi Lorch – to beat the oppositions defence, Khosi’s defence sat back and absorbed the pressure.
Biliat is pacey and tricky with his feet, while Pirates’ defence make up for that in prowess. And subsequently, Pirates succumbed to his qualities when Asavela Mbekile fouled him inside the box, to leave referee Abongile Tom with no option but to point to the spot. Daniel Cardoso, took the responsibility and sent Sandilands the wrong way. Billiat’s brilliant expo was on display today but only needed to be authorised by a goal. It never came though, but instead the visitors, levelled matters with 10 minutes to go. Following a through ball from the heart of the engine room, Lorch created space for himself which saw him in a one-on-one duel with Akpeyi before placing the ball into the bottom corner. As things heat up at the top of the log standings, Pirates will be consoled by the fact that log leaders lost their encounter by 2-1 to Highlands Park in the other match.