Pirates draw with Usuthu

Both Usuthu and the Buccaneers were looking for victory in order to claim three important points as the top-flight heads into the festive season break, but some poor finishing, allied to some fine goalkeeping, saw the scoreline stay blank.

Neither side was shy to try their luck with shots from long range in the early part of the match, though the teams' respective goalkeepers were not really called into any action of consequence, that is until AmaZulu's Kakonje Kalililo plucked Bennett Chenene's 17th minute shot out of the air.

On 19 minutes Pirates' Benson Mhlongo should have opened the scoring when he met Thembile Kanono's free kick, but the defensive midfielder failed to find the target with his shot.

Just past the midway point of the first half, Bucs coach Ruud Krol was forced into withdrawing young right wing Tlou Segolela due to injury, sending on Lebohang Mokoena, who has seen little first-team action this season.

Rooi Mahamutsa should have made more of a chance gifted to him in the 40th minute after some slack defending by Usuthu, but the defender could only scuff his shot wide. Mokoena then directed a header straight at Kalililo from Chenene's cross a short while later.

On the stroke of half-time, Zimbabwean striker Gilbert Mushanagzike did well to get on the end of another fine ball from Chenene, but he only succeeded in directing his header over the crossbar.

Six minutes into the second half Mushangazike produced a terrific save out of Kalililo, with the goalkeeper tipping the striker's well-hit shot from a set-piece round his post for a corner kick.

In the 55th minute Nhlanhla Zwane forced Pirates goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs into a sharp save with his shot from the right side of the penalty area, though the young AmaZulu winger perhaps should have done better.

With 20 minutes to play the hosts were again indebted to their goalkeeper, who palmed away a Kanono effort from close range after a good cross from Mokoena on the right flank.

Usuthu then had their best chanced of the game in the 78th, substitute Bradley Ritson shooting too close to Josephs and allowing the former Wits keeper to make a fine save from point-blank range.

The Buccaneers should have stolen all three points in injury time, as Lucas Thwala fired a thunderbolt of a shot off the upright, and Chenene was unable to capitalise on the rebound when he shot over the crossbar from just 12 yards out.