Orlando Pirates opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Absa Premiership standings with a 1-0 victory over Maritzburg United on Wednesday evening.
The Soweto giants made only one change from their last outing against Free State Stars, as Vincent Pule replaced Augustine Mulenga while the Team of Choice coach Eric Tinkler handed a debut to 19-year-old striker Kwanele Hlongwane.
After a lively start, Pirates came the closest to opening the scoring in the 13th minute with Thembinkosi Lorch’s goal-bound effort crucially blocked by United defender Nazeer Allie.
Hlongwane almost gave the hosts a lead on 29 minutes after going through on the right channel but his shot sailed across the face of goal, as the young strike was making his presence felt on debut.
With five minutes remaining, Pule almost found the breakthrough for Milutin Sredojevic’s men after weaving his way into the box, but instead of looking a for a teammate, he went for goal and failed to hit the target.
The visitors took control in the second half and they were rewarded in the 67th minute as Pule finally broke the deadlock for Pirates after poking home from six-yards out after Brian Onyango failed to clear.
Pirates were losing their tempo going forward which prompted Sredojevic to make his first change with 13 minutes remaining as Alfred Ndengane replacd Pule to reinforce the back-line.
The Soweto giants were able to see off a late surge from the Team of Choice to claim the spoils, which sees them move three points clear of Mamelodi Sundowns.
Maritzburg: Ofori, Kunene, Allie,De Reuck Onyango, Makaringe, Timm, Hlongwane, Mokate, Ndlovu, Shandu.
Subs: Mpandle, Xulu, Matsi, Kutumela, Farmer, Mekoa, Moseamedi.
Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Munetsi, Maela, Dube, Motshwari, Nyatama, Pule, Memela, Shonga, Lorch.
Subs: Mpontshane, Mabaso, Gabuza, Ndengane, Mulenga, Qalinge, Makola.