Pirates back on top
IT WAS a scrappy and physical game that could have had more goals had referee Robert Sithole not lost control early in the first half, but Orlando Pirates skipper Lucky Lekgwathi led by example with a late goal to secure a 2-1 win over SuperSport United last night.
It was a goal that sent the defending champions back on top of the Absa Premiership table - three points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns.
There were question marks about the added time which led to Lekgwathi scoring a wonderful goal.
Ref Sithole was also in charge of the match between the two teams in December when Pirates won 3-1.
Tough tackles, fists in the air and a red card given to Edwin Gyimah to leave United with only 10 men in the 76th minute also saw the home team being beaten for the first time since March 13 in the league.
Tokelo Rantie put Pirates ahead in the 29th minute with a stunning goal from close range, while Sameehg Doutie netted from a beautiful free kick to grab the equaliser.
The flaring of tempers resulted in the sending off of Gyimah after receiving a second bookable offence following a dangerous tackle on Andile Jali earlier on. He also struck Jali on the face to earn his marching orders.
Had Pirates played to a draw, which was highly likely given the turn of events before Lekgwathi's goal, it would have tainted their title ambitions as the stalemate would have marked a fourth successive share of the spoils for Bucs.
United were also hard done by, as they thought Franklin Cale had scored their equaliser early on, but it was correctly judged to be offside. Their coach Gavin Hunt will feel his side could have had more than just a point in this match, especially after pressing hard when they went a goal down in the 29th minute.
Captain Morgan Gould's spectacular clearance - when he should have allowed goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez to easily collect - went horribly wrong, falling to Tlou Segolela. The speedster found Rantie in the box and the forward hit a rocket to give the Buccaneers the lead.
Matsatsantsa could have hit back soon afterwards, but were dealt a major blow when young Kermit Erasmus was injured and Hunt was forced to make a substitution. He brought on veteran striker Sibusiso Zuma to partner Mabhuti Khenyeza upfront.
United were still trailing when Sithole began losing the plot. At the stroke of half time, United's Ashley Hartog was not booked for dangerous tackle on Jali, and Benni McCarthy was aggrieved.
The Pirates man took matters into his own hands by attacking Hartog ... then followed a few yellow cards and a red card.