Inconsistent Pirates follow derby win by slipping in the wet against Arrows

Lamontville Golden Arrows players celebrate a victory against Orlando Pirates at Sugar Ray Zulu Stadium in Clermont, Durban.
Lamontville Golden Arrows players celebrate a victory against Orlando Pirates at Sugar Ray Zulu Stadium in Clermont, Durban.
Image: TWITTER/PSL

Orlando Pirates continue to be a model of inconsistency, following a tough Soweto derby win on the weekend with Wednesday evening’s 2-0 DStv Premiership defeat to Lamontville Golden Arrows at Sugar Ray Zulu Stadium in Clermont, Durban.

Quick 27-year-old left winger Pule Mmodi – who has earned game time and been a constant threat in Arrows’ front line this season, but scored just once – made that three goals in 2020-21 with notched in the 33rd and 67th minutes.

Thembinkosi Lorch missed a penalty for Pirates in the 58th.

Bucs skidded to third defeat of the season on the wet and slippery, but smooth surface that had held up well in the downpours that have hit KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, in a match played in more rain.

It was, though, also a third loss in Bucs’ last nine unconvincing matches, which also consist of three draws and three wins, as the pressure perhaps mounts on coach Josef Zinnbauer.

Mandla Ncikazi had overseen Arrows’ good start of just one defeat from 13 matches to be in sixth place, with a game or two in hand on the leading teams, coming into the game. The coach made one change, Thabani Zuke coming into central defence for captain Matome Mathiane, who got a knock in Arrows’ 2-1 home KZN derby win against Maritzburg United on Saturday.

Four changes from a winning team – and one that performed quite solidly beating Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 in Saturday’s Soweto derby – seemed a lot from Zinnbauer. Innocent Maela, Paseka Mako, Siphesihle Ndlovu and Azola Tshobeni came in for Thulani Hlatshwayo, Bongani Sam, Ben Motshwari and Vincent Pule.

With so many personnel changes, plus a change to a 3-5-2 system, it seemed no surprise when Pirates struggle for rhythm, even with difficult conditions under-foot, in the opening half. Arrows looked sharper in the endeavour of opening the opposition.

Abafana Bes’thende’s first chance came in the 10th minute from an efficient, sweeping build-up. Ntsako Makhubela chipped into the area from left midfield and the run from deep of Seth Parusnath to beat offside was not picked up by Bucs. The midfielder neatly brought down, and teed up Knox Mutizwa, whose strike forced a solid stop from Richard Ofori.

Arrows opened the scoring when Michael Gumede’s quickly-taken throw-in on the left caught Bucs flat-footed, and Nyauza out of position behind Mmodi, who was able to run through on the left of the box and strike past Ofori from a tight angle.

From the break, Zinnbauer made the offensive switches of midfielder Motshwari replacing defender Nyauza and striker Gabadinho Mhango coming on for midfielder Tshobeni.

Pirates, more purposeful in structure and attack, had a perfect opportunity to equalise from the spot. Fortune Makaringe had the ball in the net but from an offside position, referee Tshidiso Maruping though noting that Zuke had been unable to remove his arm from connecting Deon Hotto’s chip through. Lorch leaned back on the spot-kick, which blazed over.

Almost inevitably, soon after that Arrows made it 2-0. Zuke’s punt up-field from deep in his half found Mmodi on the wrong side of three Bucs defenders, and able to out-pace Ndlovu to run through and beat Ofori.

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