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Pirates Edge Closer To League Title 03/05/05
Orlando Pirates took edged a step closer to winning the league title after they won a closely contested match against Ajax Cape Town at the Newlands Stadium on Tuesday night.

An early goal by Bennedict 'The Little Napoleon' Vilakazi was enough to earn all three points for the Buccaneers, at the same time giving them a four point lead over Sundowns and a six point advantage over Kaizer Chiefs.

The game was tightly contested throughout, with Pirates using their pace to break out quickly, while Ajax relied more on patient build-ups with Wilfred Mugeyi being used to hold the ball up front.

In the fourth minute Bucs' Nigerian midfielder Onyekachi Okonkwo, who had a great opening 45 minutes, threaded through an excellent ball to Steve Lekoelea, whose low shot was well saved by Moeneeb Josephs.

Two minutes later the Buccaneers faithful erupted when Lekoelea crossed in a dangerous ball to the near post where Vilakazi timed his run to perfection to head home.

Ajax's first chance arrived two minutes later when Theminkosi Fanteni did well to bring down the ball on his chest before firing over the bar.

The Urban Warriors continued to press for an equaliser and in the space of 10 minutes Granwald Scott headed wide, Fanteni did likewise, while a Brent Carelse free kick brushed the bar and Mugeyi had a header saved by Francis Chansa.

In the 35th minute Fanteni again came close with an audacious bicycle kick which went just over the bar.

The second half saw the introduction of Mfundo Shumana for Mugeyi, who was well marshaled by Thabang Molefe in the first 45 minutes.

The youngster immediately got into the action when he cut into the Pirates box before his parting shot was deflected away from goal by the Bucs defence.

In the 68th minute Amabhakabhaka coach Kosta Papic was forced into taking off the dangerous Lebogang Mokoena after the youngster was injured, replacing him with Perry Mutapa.

Three minutes later a mix up in the Bucs defence allowed Fanteni a shot on goal, but his effort from outside the box flew just wide of the upright.

Young Stanton Lewis, who had only been on the field a few minutes, got a rude introduction to playing at the top level when he was caught square in the face by a flying Molefe, but to his credit Lewis picked himself up and gave a good account of himself in the final 15 minutes.

The last few minutes saw Gift Leremi, who had one of his poorest games in a Pirates shirt, squander a great chance to double the score, while Fanteni again shot wide from outside the area.

This proved to be the last chance of the game, ensuring that the Sea Robbers return to Johannesburg with a priceless three points in the bag.

By Anthony McLennan

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