The victory takes Ea Lla Koto all the way up to seventh on the standings, while the Buccaneers drop to 11th after suffering an eighth defeat in the space of 19 league matches.
Stars were the first to threaten a goal, with a looping header in the eighth minute almost putting the hosts ahead, though Ayanda Gcaba did some sterling work to head the ball clear from his own goal line under immense pressure from Ayanda Nkosi.
Just under 10 minutes later Ea Lla Koto had another chance as the ball fell kindly for Reuben Thebakang in the penalty area, but his volley under pressure skewed wide of the mark and was no trouble for goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo.
In the 21st minute a mistake in defence from the home team allowed Thamsanqa Gabuza to race free on goal, but he was unable to get the better of Daouda Diakite in a one-one-one situation, with the Stars ‘keeper able to make a comfortable save.
The Free State side had little trouble creating good attacking opportunities, but too often their final pass, cross or shot left much to be desired, allowing the Buccaneers to get through to half time with a goalless score line.
Stars created the first chance of the second half in the 50th minute, with Nkosi doing brilliantly to turn Patrick Phungwayo before being faced with only Mhlongo in front of him, but the tight angle made it nearly impossible to score and his shot flashed across the face of goal.
On 64 minutes Ea Lla Koto had their best chance of the match, with a loose ball on the edge of the box allowing Thebakang a clear sight on goal – his crisply-hit left-footed shot looked destined for the back of the net, but Mhlongo made an excellent save to keep his side on lever terms.
However, the Bucs ‘keeper was finally beaten in the 80th minute, with impressive striker Nkosi providing a fine header from Thebakang’s cross to hand Ea Lla Koto a well-deserved lead.
The goal proved to be the difference between the teams, with Stars able to hold out comfortably to claim the three points.
Giovanni Solinas' side now move to eighth place, with 25 points from 19 games, while Pirates drop two places to 11th place, with 22 points from 19 games.