Pirates close gap at the top
Premiership champions Orlando Pirates showed in their 1-0 win against AmaZulu here last night that they will not relinquish the league title without a fight.
With seven matches to go, Pirates are now tied on 43 points with Mamelodi Sundowns at the top of the Premiership standings.
If Pirates were to indeed defend their title, the striking partnership between Tokelo Rantie and Benni McCarthy would be key.
Rantie regularly caused panic in Usuthu's rearguard when he ran onto McCarthy flick-ons, which, last night, was often.
Rantie opened the scoring as early as the 6th minute, when he latched onto a loose ball outside the box, charged towards goal and fired past Mbongeni Mzimela.
Rantie, earning only his second Premier League start, constantly pressurised the home side's defence, to a point where he drew two defenders whenever he was in possession. He ran with intent and purpose and craved the next Pirates attacking move.
The mighty Buccaneers have had a poor away record this season - winning just three matches from 10 visits - but with the league at stake, they rewrote the form book. They were comfortable in possession and seldom under pressure throughout the game.
Rantie could have killed off the game as a contest in the 64th minute had it not for a desperate sliding block by Tsweu Mokoro to deflect the shot wide.
Much of Pirates' engine room work was carried by Oupa Manyisa in the absence of his co-midfield sheriff Andile Jali. He neutralised the threat of Usuthu's skillful playmaker Thamsanqa Sangweni.
Usuthu, coming off three wins and a draw in their last four matches, struggled to consistently sneak behind the Pirates defence. Their efforts were therefore reduced to the occasional break and speculative shot from long range.
AmaZulu coach Roger Palmgren would be disappointed with his strikers Ayanda Dlamini and Goodman Dlamini who hadn't looked enough for work during the game and had few chances to take on the Pirates defence.
lMazola Molefe reports at Loftus that Sundowns were again held to a draw at home, this time by Lamontville Golden Arrows and the home side did not look a team pushing for their sixth league title, missing clear-cut chances and frustrated by the visitors. Even coach Johan Neeskens' efforts to change his tactics by bringing on striker Katlego Mphela and Lebohang Mokoena for Elias Pelembe and Anthony Laffor did little to give them the fire-power upfront.
l Goals by Dove Wome and Paulos Masehe were enough for enterprising Steve Komphela's Free State Stars to collect maximum points as they beat provincial foes Bloemfontein Celtic 2-1 at Charles Mopeli Stadium.
Luyanda Bacela scored the consolation goal for the visitors.
l At Athlone Stadium Thami Nqolobe writes that Platinum Stars sent Santos deeper into the quagmire when they beat the 2-1.
Santos scored first through Eleazar Rodgers who headed home in the 11th minute. But their lead was cancelled out by Vuyo Mere who scored from the penalty spot in the 67th minute. Patrick Malokase scored two minutes later.
Santos played most of the match with 10 men after Erwin Isaacs was given a straight red by Victor Gomes in the 8th minute.
l At Harry Gwala Stadium, Maritzburg United and SuperSport United played to a goalless draw.