Tshegofatso Mabasa’s late strike guided Orlando Pirates to a 1-0 win over Highlands Park at Makhulong Stadium in Tembisa on Tuesday evening.
The forward’s fifth goal of the season ended the Buccaneers winless run while also moving them up to eighth place on the log standings. Defeat leaves the Lions of the North in fourth place.
Mabasa proved an early threat as Pirates went in search of only a third league win of the season, but having weathered the early storm, Highlands started to create chances of their own.
Wayne Sandilands was well positioned to punch Tendai Ndoro’s header clear of goal in the 32nd minute and the Zimbabwean tested the Pirates shot-stopper once more soon after.
Ndoro, eager to impress against his former employers, cut in field before launching a rasping shot at goal, but Sandilands got down well to keep the ball from creeping in at the near post.
Pirates had the final say of the half and should’ve opened the scoring with the final touch before the break, but Vincent Pule could only succeed in guiding his header over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
The visitors carried that momentum into the second half and ultimately found the winner – albeit through a huge slice of luck – in the 80th minute.
Linda Mntambo played the ball to Mabasa who raced through on goal before finishing with aplomb past Thela Ngobeni to send the Pirates fans into absolute delirium.
Replays though showed that the striker was at least two metres offside when the ball was played to him, but the goal stood as the assistant referee failed to raise his flag.
Nevertheless, this will only increase the pressure on the match officials in the league following a host of contentious decisions over the last few weeks. But on the night, luck favoured Pirates who claimed a valuable win.
Highlands Park (0) 0
Orlando Pirates (0) 1 (Mabasa 80′)
Highlands Park: Ngobeni; Mbhele, Rae, Msimango (Nyembe 88′), Williams, Mbatha (Mogaila 71′), Mvala, Mokoena, Mbunjana, Shalulile, Ndoro.
Orlando Pirates: Sandilands; Maela, Jele, Nyauza, Dube, Mntambo, Motshwari, Mako (Makaringe 58′), Shonga (Mhango 69′), Pule, Mabasa (Mabaso 87′)