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SuperSport cement top spot

SuperSport United stretched their lead at the top of the Absa Premiership to four points with a deserved 1-0 over Orlando Pirates at the Johannesburg Stadium on Saturday night.

It was not a great match from a technical point of view, but it was full of tension. The match was interrupted due to a problem with the floodlights at the stadium, which saw the players return to the dressing room midway through the match.

The Buccaneers are now in sixth position on the log. However, they have only won one of their last six league encounters, which will put pressure on their coach Owen da Gama.

'Matsatsantsa' keeper Denis Onyango was back from suspension, but coach Gavin Hunt opted to continue with the experienced Andre Arendse between the posts. The 'Buccaneers', meanwhile, had Teko Modise back from suspension.

SuperSport started the game in a blitz, scoring already in the second minute thanks to a goal by Elias Pelembe, after a good cross from the left by the always hard-working Ethiopian striker Fikru. The Pirates defence was clearly caught napping.

Five minutes later, Katlego Mashego even nearly scored the second goal via a well-timed left-footed bicycle kick. The ball, however, went just wide.

The 'Buccaneers' tried to come back, but did not create any real chances. Their only opportunity to score came when Matsatsantsa defender Bongani Khumalo looked to head the ball away out of the box, before suddenly leaving the ball for Arendse behind him, who did not expect the ball. But the veteran goalkeeper reacted quickly, catching the ball in the second instance.

Both teams had a habit of losing possession of the ball, with Pirates midfielder Modise being one of the main culprits.

Nearly five minutes into the second half, Pirates striker Gilbert Mushangazhike got an excellent chance to equalize, but his shot went wide.

The Buccaneers started to dominate the midfield, while the 'Matsatsantsa' defence fell back too easily too quickly. SuperSport still missed their influential captain Ricardo Katza in defence, but they were lucky to have a cool-head in Arendse, who organised his defence well.

Pirates coach Da Gama replaced defensive midfielder Lindokuhlu Mkhwanazi by the more attack-minded Lebohang Mokoena.

A well-taken free kick by Modise from about 25 metres was well saved by Arendse.

However, the game was interrupted halfway the second half due to a problem with the floodlights at the Johannesburg Stadium. The break to sort out the malfunctioning lights took about 40 minutes, which, of course, did not make life easy for the players, who had to warm-up again.

Just after the extended stoppage SuperSport's Daine Klate got a free header in front of the Pirates goal, but he got the header completely wrong, sending the ball far wide.

Thereafter, the game went up and down with both teams getting opportunities to score.

However, it did not happen. "Last week we were poor, losing against AmaZulu," analysed SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt. "But tonight we did well and we deserved the win!"

Match report by Ernest Landheer/Backpagepix

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