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Soweto Derby Ends All Square 30/04/05
The Castle Premiership League title race remains wide open after Kaizer Chiefs played out to a 1-1 draw with Orlando Pirates in the Soweto derby at Soccer City on Saturday afternoon.

Played in front of a capacity crowd, the atmosphere at the FNB Stadium was electric throughout the match, as was the action on the field as the match came close to living up to its billing as the 'game of the season.'

The draw was probably a fair reflection of an action-packed and very open match, which was a great advertisement for the beautiful game in this country.

Often games of this nature tend to see both teams being over cautious and failing to take the initiative for fear of being caught on the counter attack, but an early Chiefs goal ensured this was not the case as the game was played at a cracking pace throughout the first half, with play changing ends on a regular basis.

Chiefs' goal was a real cracker as Collins Mbesuma, who was well marshalled by Tonic Tshabalala throughout the game, did well to hold the ball up in the box before picking out Scara Ngobese on the edge of the area, whose first time shot rocketed into the back of the net.

Bucs nearly hit straight back when a great ball by skipper-for-the-day, Jimmy Tau, picked out Gift Leremi, whose powerful shot cannoned off the cross bar with Rowen Fernandez well beaten.

Just a minute later Leremi wasted another great chance when he beat Fernandez, but then instead of pulling the ball back to an un-marked Bennedict Vilakazi, he tried to score from a tight angle and succeeded only in hitting the side-netting.

The match remained relatively evenly balanced and it was Joseph Makhanya who was next to have a go at goal, but his speculative effort from range flew over the bar.

Amabhakabhaka keeper Francis Chansa came to his team's rescue in the 36th minute when he got down smartly to save Arthur Zwane's side-footed shot.

The last chance of the opening half fell to Phumudzo Manenzhe, whose first-time left-footed volley flew just wide of the mark.

In the 53rd minute a great move by Pirates around the edge of the area nearly saw Vilakazi getting the equalizer, however his shot flew into the side-netting.

Almost immediately afterwards Chiefs broke up field and the persistence of Radebe saw the ball reach Mbesuma, whose shot seemed headed for goal until a brilliant diving save off his own line by midfielder Onyechachi Okonkwo saved the day for Pirates.

Chiefs continued press forward using counter-attacking tactics and both Ngobese and Radebe had their shots go narrowly wide just before the hour mark.

Despite the danger of leaving space at the back for Chiefs to exploit, the Sea Robbers continued to throw players forward and they were rewarded in the 66th minute when Lebogang Mokoena got to the by-line and pulled the ball back for Vilakazi, who made no mistake in slotting home the ball for his fourth ever Soweto derby strike.

Six minutes later Chansa again pulled off a fantastic save when he blocked Derrick Spencer's sweetly struck pile-driver.

Both sets of players gave their all in the dying minutes as they went in search of the winner, which remained elusive.

The result sees the Buccaneers maintain their top-of-the-table position, while Chiefs, who have a game in hand on Pirates, move above Sundowns and into second spot.

By Anthony McLennan

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