Downs, Pirates in feisty draw

After the trials and tribulations of Saturday’s Soweto Derby, this match failed to live up to expectations and at times threatened to boil over as the players got involved in a few off-the-ball niggles.

Sundowns definitely had the better of the first half, though it was Pirates who had the first effort on goal after 10 minutes – Thabo Matlaba hitting a powerful shot after a surging run, but straight at Wayne Sandilands.

Hlompo Kekana, still looking for his first goal of the season not scored against Powerlines, had The Brazilians’ first shot in anger four minutes later after beating Daine Klate with some great skill, but then fired a drive inches wide with Moeneeb Josephs struggling.

Tlou Segolela hit the side-netting for Pirates a minute later, before Kekana again failed to hit the target; this time after being set up by Elias Pelembe.

Ten minutes from halftime and Klate too hit the side-netting, before Teko Modise came closest to breaking the deadlock when his free-kick from the left touchline eluded everyone, including Josephs, but clipped the crossbar and bounced to safety.

Pirates started the second half well and managed to get a lot of crosses into the area, but nothing that had Sandilands too worried.

In fact, it was Josephs who was next called into action, parrying Katlego Mphela’s rasping drive for a corner.

Then, on 57 minutes, the game’s best chance fell to Klate. Benni McCarthy did well to run onto a through-ball and beat Sandilands before setting up the winger, who then proceeded to send his shot well wide with the goalkeeper nowhere in sight.

Two excellent pieces of defending from Rooi Mahamutsa and Punch Masenamela denied Pelembe and Klate certain scoring chances, which by this stage had become few and far between as the game descended into a scrappy – and at times ill-tempered – affair.

In fact, the closest we got to a deciding goal was Modise’s long-range effort on 83 minutes which forced Josephs into a smart save low down to his left.

Andile Jali was shown a second yellow card a minute from time and Masenamela almost netted an own-goal from Matlaba’s cross in injury-time, but in the end the teams settled for a share of the points.

Ryan Cooper

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