Swallows could have moved to second on the log had they held onto their 1-0 lead – handed to them thanks to a simply brilliant goal from David Mathebula in the first half – but they paid for trying to hold onto their lead, when they enjoyed long periods of dominance in the match.
After a quiet opening quarter hour in which both teams struggled to find their rhythm, Pirates suddenly created an opening to put striker Bongani Ndulula one-on-one with Greg Etafia but the goalkeeper made an excellent save with his feet.
Pirates looked solid in defence but on 21 minutes they were forced into an unscheduled change when left-back Ruben Cloete was withdrawn due to injury.
Youngster Sibusiso Mxoyana came on and looked a bundle of nerves, which saw Bucs’ defensive stability severely compromised.
On the half hour mark Swallows took advantage, with midfielder Mathebula scoring a contender for goal of the season – a long rang screamer that gave Moeneeb Josephs absolutely no chance of a save.
Swallows looked the likelier scorers in what remained of the first half but they were unable to add to their advantage, leaving the game 1-0 in their favour at the interval.
In the second half Swallows withdrew into a more defensive mode as they looked to hit Pirates on the counter.
The hosts began to throw more and more men forward in an effort to get back on level terms.
Yet Bucs did create some good openings, particularly with just 10 minutes to play when a great low cross from Tlou Segolela handed substitute Tukelo Rantie a chance he could not miss ... yet somehow he did.
Fortunately for the youngster his miss didn’t prove too costly, as Jele headed from close range in the dying seconds from a scuffed cross-shot by Segolela.
It was harsh on The Birds, who arguably deserved all three points for their controlled performance.