Off-field drama hits Downs and Buccaneers

Sunday Times - - Stsport - By KHANYISO TSHWAKU

● It may have been the first goal­less draw be­tween the sides in seven sea­sons but this one will be re­mem­bered more for hap­pen­ings off the field than on it. They de­tracted from what was an ex­cit­ing game that was short of goals but high on drama.

Or­lando Pi­rates again bossed Sun­downs, con­tin­u­ing the trend from last sea­son but will be happy with the point that kept them at the top of the log. Sun­downs re­main un­beaten but they were far from con­vinc­ing.

What should have been an ex­cit­ing game de­gen­er­ated into a far­ci­cal fes­ti­val of off-the­field shenanigans.

The first took place be­fore kick-off when there was a squab­ble be­tween Pi­rates’ se­cu­rity de­tail and the sta­dium se­cu­rity when Pi­rates ar­rived at the sta­dium.

Then there was the un­ruly Mamelodi Sun­downs fan who in­ex­pli­ca­bly found his way to the Or­lando Pi­rates bench where he seem­ingly had choice words for Pi­rates’ as­sis­tant coach Rhu­lani Mok­wena.

How the fan wan­dered from the stand to the tech­ni­cal area again raises the se­ri­ous mat­ter of sta­dium se­cu­rity, es­pe­cially at Lof­tus Vers­feld, for Cat­e­gory A matches at the Sun­ny­side venue.

Rapid de­te­ri­o­ra­tion

It was at this venue on Fe­bru­ary 11 last year when irate Pi­rates fans took mat­ters into their own hands dur­ing a 6-0 rout.

The sit­u­a­tion rapidly de­te­ri­o­rated be­tween the two benches and a vis­i­bly riled Mok­wena, who un­wit­tingly found him­self in a so­cial me­dia cy­clone be­cause of for­mer Sun­downs mid­fielder Bongani Zungu, told the clearly fraz­zled ref­eree Daniel Ben­nett that he’s not se­cure in his tech­ni­cal area. Sun­downs coach Pitso Mosi­mane’s blood was also up and the tech­ni­cal area fra­cas meant nine min­utes were added on top of what was a high oc­tane but nervy first 45 min­utes.

The phys­i­cal­ity extended onto the field where the hosts in par­tic­u­lar, were on the right side of Ben­nett’s officiating. Uruguayan Gas­ton Sirino got away with two rash tack­les on Pi­rates mid­fielder Xola Mlambo.

Sun­downs in gen­eral man­han­dled the skil­ful Pi­rates mid­field­ers but iron­i­cally had the bet­ter first-half chances.

Jeremy Brockie should have scored in the first minute when a del­i­cate Andile Jali pass split open the Pi­rates de­fence. Brockie’s shot, with only Siyabonga Mpontshane to beat, went hor­ri­bly wide.

Lyle Lackay also had a rasp­ing 12thminute shot from range that fizzed nar­rowly over the bar.

How­ever, the vis­i­tors, who went into the game on an eight league match un­beaten streak, had the bet­ter of first-half ex­changes.

Sun­downs had to deal with the early loss of Andile Jali to a ham­string in­jury.

Pi­rates started the sec­ond half bet­ter and had three poor shots from Them­binkosi Lorch and Vin­cent Pule not test­ing Denis Onyango. Phaka­mani Mahlambi's 61st minute in­tro­duc­tion gave the hosts the spark miss­ing in the first half.

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