Pirates save season
ORLANDO PIRATES (0) 3 BIDVEST WITS (1) 1 ORLANDO Pirates responded to their looming embarrassment of losing four consecutive cup finals with their most attractive and dominant outing of the season, dispatching a game Bidvest Wits unit.
It was fitting they scored three goals, which marked their three Cup finals losses. Three seems to be a number they love, considering that they needed three goals to win their first round clash against Thanda Royal Zulu. Despite conceding first, they never looked like losing.
The red-clad Pirates were first to seize the initiative through Kermit Erasmus in the first minute, who cut through the Bidvest Wits defence only to see his tame attempt easily saved by Moeneeb Josephs. It was the first of four crucial moments of weakness shown by a formidable Wits back four that was well marshalled by Sboniso Gumede. While the centre back had a largely excellent outing, his wingbacks let him down completely later in the game.
Officiating in cup finals will always take centre stage when put into the spotlight; Zolile Mthetho acquitted himself very well, even though Pirates fans would agree to the contrary. He legitimately turned down a penalty appeal from Pirates in the eighth minute when the ball ricocheted from Gumede’s hand in what was a genuine ball to hand offence.
Later on in the game and decisively, he allowed Wits a crucial advantage after Calvin Kadi was hacked down in the box after collecting a long ball from Sibusiso Vilakazi. Jabulani Shongwe, who wore two differently coloured boots, stood out like a brightly coloured parakeet when he pounced on the loose ball and rifled it past a flailing Senzo Meyiwa. It would have been a different matter had the chance not been converted but it was due reward for a Wits unit that had dominated until that point.
The difference in coaches, Roger de Sa and Vladimir Vermezovic, were now evident in Pirates’ ability to remain calm even though they were chasing the game. Wits sensed blood and threw in the kitchen sink, but were kept at bay by a tenacious unit that did not want the shame of losing a fourth consecutive Cup Final.
They, however, were fortunate not to concede a second goal early in the second half when Meyiwa pulled off a superb save from a Sthembiso Ngcobo flick on from point blank range. That was the clarion call for Pirates to raid Wits goal and four minutes later Erasmus equalised after Oupa Manyisa’s run went unchecked on the right flank.
It was the first of two glaring mistakes by the normally reliable Onismor Bhasera. He was also culpable in Pirates second goal, scored by Sifiso Myeni eight minutes later, when he failed to cut off Mpho Makola’s pass to Manyisa, who was at the heart of everything that Pirates did.
After being bullied by Letladi Madubanya for long periods of the first half, Manyisa operated on the right and terrorised Bhasera to no end. Erasmus popped again and added his second of the match after the Wits defence simply fell apart in the face of Pirates’ incisive shortpassing game.
It knocked the stuffing out of Wits and despite keeping Meyiwa busy, Pirates had done enough to get the gorilla off their backs.
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