Free State Stars stun Pirates to end the year on a high
Free State Stars finished their 2018 home league programme on a high note when they beat Orlando Pirates 2-1 at Goble Park in Bethlehem.
Abbubaker Mobara’s own goal and Sinethemba Jantjie’s winner condemned Pirates to a third league defeat of the season that left them in fourth place with 19 points.
With the victory being their sixth of the season, Free State Stars moved to second spot with 22 points with chance to increase that tally when they face Bidvest Wits on Wednesday.
While the quality of the game left a lot to be desired, the sides created enough first half opportunities to take a lead. Orlando Pirates saw more of the ball and had more shots at goal but could not beat Free State Stars goalkeeper Badra Ali Sangare.
Oddly the hosts had the first crack at goal in the 20th minute through Siphelele Mthembu but Pirates keeper Jackson Mabokgwane foiled the attempt. Pirates responded seven minutes later through Mpho Makola’s thunderbolt but that started Sangare’s sublime goalkeeping evening.
Sangare was on hand to produce a wonderful save from Thabo Rakhale in the 35th minute. Mabokgwane was also kept busy when he had to save Goodman Dlamini’s shot in the 41st minute. Pirates could have and should have scored on the stroke of half-time but Luvuyo Memela’s first touch failed him while Thabiso Kutumela’s shot was blocked.
The second half lit up when the evening cooled down and Pirates continued their dominance. Sangare had to watch shots from Makola (47th) and had to save Rakhale’s 54th minute shot. Stars then took the lead in the 55th minute when Mobara guided the ball into his own net when he tried to dispossess Jantjie. While it couldn’t be looked at as a defensive system error, Jantjie, who caused Pirates problems throughout the game, was to have big say later in the game.
Pirates though responded five minutes later when Kutumela latched onto a long ball and forced a save from Bangare with his initial shot before bundling in the rebound. Pirates again dominated proceedings but again couldn’t pierce the resolute Free State Stars defence that was on its redemption mission after their 3-0 Free State derby loss to Bloemfontein Celtic last week.
Jantjie capped a superb evening’s work with a controversial but deserved 84th minute goal when Mabokgwane failed to collect Thabo Maphakisa’s cross. Jantjie bundled the ball into the net from the ensuing scramble. The Pirates players were up in arms but the goal stood and settled the tie.