Pirates, Celtic share spoils

The goals came from a Celtic penalty, converted by Darrel Smith, and a reply from Teko Modise for Pirates. Celtic’s Wellington Sambo was sent off in injury time after receiving a second yellow card.

With two sides at opposite ends of the Premiership table, this match always promised excitement – and that is exactly what it delivered. Phunya Sele Sele, who are currently sitting in 15th place on the log, were prepared to lay it all on the line in search of victory.

Celtic’s heart and determination were clear from the outset as they defended with their lives as the ever-enthusiastic Buccaneers laid siege on their goal, applying constant pressure in attack during the first 45 minutes.

Pirates were also desperate for maximum points considering their second-place position on the League table and the fact that they wanted to close the gap on the leaders SuperSport United.

Pirates were also looking for revenge against Celtic after suffering a 2-1 defeat to them a week earlier in the Nedbank Cup. Pirates certainly played the prettier football, attacking out wide and through the middle of the park with some penetrating passes.

The first real chance of the game fell to Pirates’ striker Katlego Mashego in the 12th minute. He showed some real class as he took sublime control of a beautiful long ball from the back, pulling it down 14 yards out from goal and firing a venomous shot that struck the underside of the cross-bar and rebounded away from danger.

Then against the run of play in a rare foray forward by Celtic, Mark Mayambela was pulled down inside the box by Pirates’ left back defender Lucas Thwala. The referee did not hesitate in pointing to the spot. Smith coolly stepped up and made no mistake from the penalty spot as he slotted the ball home putting his team in front, 1-0.

Celtic’s lead only lasted five minutes before the Buccaneers star midfielder, Modise, drew his side level in the 32nd minute. Initially the Celtic keeper did brilliantly to deny Mashego, but he deflected the shot right into the path of Modise who side-footed the ball into the back of the net from only a couple of yards out, 1-1.

Again in the dying seconds of the half, Patrick Tignyemb was superb between the sticks for Celtic as he flung himself full stretch to his left to stop a powerful Dikgang Mabalane shot that was definitely bound for goal.

The second half ebbed and flowed as both teams went all out in attack to find the goal that would probably settle the game, but neither team could create a definitive chance in front of goal and were forced to shoot from long range.

Mashego came close to scoring the games third goal when he let fly with his left foot from just outside the 18 yard box in the 69th minute, but his effort sailed over the cross-bar.

Then in the 78th minute Mashego should have given his side the lead for the first time in the game when a nice passing movement found him with the ball at his feet only 12 yards out from goal. But with the goal at his mercy he side-footed the ball inches wide of the upright.

Pirates asked lots of questions of the Celtic defence in the final minutes of the match and they nearly failed to answer. Modise came closest to being the Buccaneers’ hero on the day when he struck the top side of the crossbar in the 85th minute from only 12 yards out.

The Phunya Sele Sele did manage to keep Pirates out, to end the game on level terms, 1-1. They will, however, lose the services of Sambo in their next match as he was sent of in the 93rd minute for receiving his second yellow card.

The result was not optimum for either side but a draw is always better than a loss.