Late Mabasa strike saves Orlando Pirates’ blushes against Baroka
A lethargic Orlando Pirates could not get out of first gear‚ scarcely deserving a 1-1 DStv Premiership draw against Baroka FC at Orlando Stadium on Saturday that was rescued by the late strike of Tshegofatso Mabasa.
Baroka substitute Ananias Gebhardt had profited from Bucs goalkeeper Richard Ofori spilling a free-kick‚ the Namibian striking his team into the lead soon after the restart in the 47th minute.
Pirates‚ flat all afternoon‚ barely created a chance in response for almost the entire second half‚ until substitute big striker Mabasa‚ on in the 61st for Linda Mntambo‚ equalised at a minute into added time.
The result saw Bucs – along with Mamelodi Sundowns‚ a combination seemingly putting themselves forward as early-season favourites to challenge for the title – extend by the skin of their teeth a 10-match unbeaten run going back to last season.
Pirates were flat in their work rate and sloppy in their passing and possession play‚ giving the ball away easily and failing to stamp their authority in midfield‚ allowing Baroka to run at them fairly regularly.
Baroka came into the game on the type of solid start under coach Thoka Matsemela of two wins a draw and a defeat from four matches that threatened to provide a stumbling block to Pirates. For an industrious‚ if unspectacular‚ performance‚ they came close to stealing all the points.
Bucs‚ showing signs under Josef Zinnbauer of an already strong combination clicking into ominous form with the incorporation of strong off-season signings‚ and coming off four league and cup wins in a row‚ would have felt they had put in a poor shift at Orlando.
Neither team hit a gear in a slow-paced first half.
It took until the 21st minute for the first shot in anger to come from Baroka winger Tshiamo Masiya‚ with Richard Ofori taking comfortably enough despite an awkward bounce.
Pirates’ first opportunity came just after the half-hour. From a throw-in on the left Terrence Dzvukamanja was able to turn and feed Zakhele Lepasa‚ who struck wide.
In the best chance of the half Siphesihle Ndlovu chipped from the left of the area for Lepasa to head sharply‚ Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke pulling off the reflex save.
Having ended the first half strongly‚ Pirates would have wanted to come out of the change rooms pressing for an even greater advantage.
A keeping error‚ though‚ from Ofori just a minute into the second half‚ allowed Baroka the lead. The Ghanaian got up to an innocuous free-kick from the right by Nhlanhla Mgaga‚ and spilled it directly to the feet of Gebhardt – on five minutes before the end of the first half for Cheslyn Jampies – who gleefully swept in.
Pirates’ response to conceding should have been to find some fire in their play. Instead it was Baroka foward Kgodiso Monama who came within centimetres of making it 2-0 driving from range onto the left upright.
Bucs had failed to create the necessary chances in the second half that could have seen them fight back for a victory.
However‚ a minute into added time right-back Wayde Jooste crossed from deep‚ Deon Hotto at the far post connected back into the middle‚ and Mabasa was on hand to scoop the last-gasp equaliser‚ as Bucs at least salvaged a draw.