Aces make Pirates pay the penalty

Collins Mbesuma opened the scoring in the 12th minute before Lehlohonolo Majoro levelled matters from the penalty spot on 70 minutes, but another penalty kick from Mabhuti Khenyeza 11 minutes from time proved the difference in the end.

After a lively start for Pirates in which Kermit Erasmus hit the upright from a tight angle and had a strong penalty appeal waved away, it was Aces who took the lead.

Abia Nale took Patrick Phungwayo to the cleaners with a lovely piece of footwork on the right flank and won a free-kick. Onyekachi Okonkwo stepped up to take it and found Mbesuma at the back post, and he headed into an empty net as Senzo Meyiwa found himself stranded in no man's land.

Pirates bossed more of the ball in the first 45 minutes but could not find too many telling passes, with Erasmus fluffing a shot when through on goal and Khethokwakhe Masuku not able to hit the target in two attempts, one on his left foot and another from the edge of the area.

Despite the visitors' majority of the play, Aces arguably used the ball better and created a fair few openings themselves, with Lehlohonolo Nonyane and Mbesuma firing wide from promising positions, and in general playing good football.

The second half was an exciting affair as Pirates chased down an equaliser, with Erasmus showing his intent with an early palm-stinger for Mabokgwane to parry away.

In the 57th minute Daine Klate came with some heroic defending just as an unmarked Dennis Masina on the six-yard line was about to bury a Doctor Mampuru cross from the right. Klate threw himself at the ball to clear the danger.

Then in the 66th minute Thabo Qalinge let rip with his left foot from about 25 yards and it looked destined for the top corner, but Mabokgwane produced a great save diving full stretch to his right.

A Pirates equaliser duly came when substitute Majoro played a beautiful through-ball to Erasmus, whose first touch was heavy and Mabokgwane was able to close the angle. But then the Aces keeper needlessly brought the striker down from behind, penalty.

Majoro stepped up confidently and buried the spot-kick into the bottom-left corner, 1-1, with Mabokgwane diving the wrong way.

Immediately after the goal Okonkwo tried a long-range curler that Meyiwa had to be alert to keep out, diving to his left.

But eight minutes later another gift was handed out as Oupa Manyisa headed the ball onto his own arm from a harmless throw-in and the referee pointed to the spot. Khenyeza, who had just come on for goalscorer Mbesuma, made no mistake from the spot, getting enough power behind it to beat Meyiwa into the bottom-right corner, 2-1.

Vladimir Vermezovic's side were unable to fashion another clear chance as Aces defended stoutly to claim another big scalp and secure a valuable three points to move above the Buccaneers on the Absa Premiership table.