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Ellis Park
21/02/2009 20:00

Destin Makita of Pirates battles for the ball with Duncan Lechesa of Free State Stars

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Posted: 21 February 2009 Time: 22:31

Orlando Pirates beat Free State Stars 1-0 in an Absa Premiership game played at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday evening.

Pirates’ goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs had a great game and his saves helped his side come away with the three points for the win. The goal was scored by Siphelele Mthembu during the second half.

The match saw an inform Stars side, which have not lost a game in the New Year, go up against a struggling Pirates side who had not won a game in their last three. Something had to give in the 90 minutes that was to follow.

The Buccaneers coach, Ruud Krol, decide to start with Josephs in goal after his recent dismal form and blunders at the back which have often cost Pirates victory. The Bafana goalkeeper's questionable form would certainly be challenged in this game and he was determined to prove a point to his teammates and the Sea Robbers' loyal fans.

Josephs' first test came four minutes into the game when Sthembiso Ngcobo let fly with a ferocious shot from 30 yards out that was goal bound had it not have been for a fantastic save by the Pirates goalie, tipping the ball over the cross bar.

Two minutes later Josephs pulled off another brilliant save, a replica of the first, from a Ruben Cloete free-kick from just outside the box. The Buccaneers goalkeeper had one more test to pass in the 12th minute and he did so with flying colours denying Ngcobo again from point blank range. The Ea Lla Koto striker rose above the defence to head the ball towards the goal, but only found Josephs in the way.

Pirates certainly controlled the lion's share of possession in the first 45, but Free State allowed them to have it as long as they were in their own half. When the Buccaneers pushed forward they closed them down very quickly robbing them of the ball.

Stars certainly looked the more dangerous when going forward and when going backwards they defended in numbers.

Pirates definitely struggled to create any decent opportunities in front of goal in the first half as they found it extremely difficult to create space in the midfield.

The second half proved a much different affair, as Stars appeared to slack off a bit allowing the Buccaneers more space in the midfield, not closing them down as quickly as they did in the first and they certainly paid the price when Siphelele Mthembu broke the deadlock in the 57th minute.

Teko Modise drove down the left flank and cut the ball back into the box, when he reached the by-line, to find Mthembu unmarked inside the box (who couldn't miss from a couple of yards out) as he coolly slotted the ball home with the side of his boot, 1-0.

Josephy Kamwendo almost doubled Pirates' lead just two minutes later when he produced a beautiful shot from 18 yards out that was headed to the top right-hand corner, but Kennedy Mweene was up to the Challenge as he acrobatically tipped the ball over the crossbar.

Josephs' confidence grew as they game progressed and he produce another superb save in the 72nd minute, punching Prince Olomu's powerful shot over the bar from only 16 yards out.

The game ended 1-0 and Free State can only have themselves to blame as they had the game in full control, but because of squandered chances in the first half and a lacklustre effort in the second half they were made to pay.

Pirates, on the other hand, will be ecstatic with the three points as it keeps them in contention to challenge for the League title.

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