Orlando Pirates’ unbeaten run came to an unceremonious end on the road as they fell to a 3-1 defeat against SuperSport United in their DStv Premiership encounter at Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.
Having won their last three games, the Buccaneers were also without a loss in their last six games ahead of their visit to a United side fresh off a win in the CAF Confederation Cup in midweek. Minimal changes were made to the team that started in the victory over Golden Arrows, with Tapelo Xoki slotting back into the starting XI in place of Nkosinathi Sibisi while the suspended Patrick Maswanganyi was replaced by Thembinkosi Lorch.
Five minutes is all it took for the visitors to make the breakthrough, benefitting from some terrific link-up play on the left between Miguel Timm and Lorch as they stretched the defence to allow the onrushing Fortune Makaringe to make the single touch that was needed to make it 1-0.
They had to contend with a couple of positive moments from the hosts, who attacked through teenager Shandre Campbell as he managed a wayward shot in the 10th minute before connecting with the experienced Bradley Grobler, with Olisa Ndah making a crucial block to keep his side in the lead.
Pirates attacking midfielder Karim Kimvuidi came close to doubling the advantage when he ran into a pass from Katlego Otladisa before hitting his attempt at goal just inches wide. It looked as if the Soweto Giants would head into the break still a goal to the good but the two sides were level nine minutes from halftime when a turnover in possession led to Campbell’s equaliser against the run of play.
Despite a half-chance for Evidence Makgopa late in the first period, the two sides went into the tunnel on level pegging, setting up an enticing second-half battle. That however did not go in the Buccaneers’ favour, as their attacks were thwarted early on after the restart before the hosts the home side went into the lead for the first time in the contest. Their goal came in the 56th minute via a corner taken on the right-hand side of the field, with Grobler popping up in the middle to head in from close range to provide the crucial blow.
Pirates attempted to draw level with a couple of surges into United territory, but without finding the decisive touch. Replacement forward Relebohile Mofokeng fired wide in the 72nd minute after getting on the end of some superb interplay around the penalty area, followed by a chance from close range from Olisa Ndah, whose header from a corner was deflected out.
That happened to be seconds before United would double their lead, following a clanger from the Bucs defence which allowed Campbell in for an easy finish as he completed his brace. Desperate to reduce the deficit, Pirates found clear-cut opportunities hard to come by in the face of a stern defensive effort but could have pulled one back late in the contest when Zakhele Lepasa’s ball to the right almost forced an own goal.