Pirates, Swallows draw

Fresh from their 3-1 spanking by on-song Bloemfontein Celtic, Orlando Pirates salvaged a point when they were held to a goalless draw by traditional rivals Moroka Swallows in an epic Castle Premiership match at Ellis Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

With experienced players like Manuel 'Tico Tico' Bucuane missing some simple goal-scoring opportunities, it remains to be seen when will Pirates make their once 'Happy People' happy again.

A point did nothing to silence the murmur of unrest and despite playing with much purpose, the 'Buccaneers' faithful are hungry for a victory.

A red card given by referee Jerome Damon to captain Lehlohonolo Seema has compounded more miseries for Pirates and with their defence a wobble - a headache for new coach Bibey Mutombo is on the cards.

The home team will never understand how they failed to win this match, as they played with more verve, but failed to beat reliable Swallows goalkeeper Greg Etafia who had a stunner of a match.

The visitors were quicker to settle and bombarded the Pirates rearguard in the first 10 minutes - but found goalkeeper Isaac Chansa, who came in for inept and error-prone Avril Phali, ready to impress his new coach.

When Swallows coach Gavin Hunt elected to play 2,05m striker Mame Niang to partner Sashi Chalwe - in place of the pint-sized Evans Gwekwerere - it seemed the 'Birds' were set to undo all the work achieved by their notable victory over Silver Stars last week.

But the towering Senegalese striker was a constant threat throughout, troubling Pirates defenders Lucas Thwala and Seema with his height in the first half.

Returnee Japhet Zwane was a menace down the left-side of the midfield but it was Cecil Oerson who missed a scoring chance when Pirates defender Lucky Legwathi gifted him possession whilst trying to head the ball back to Chansa, failing to see the sneaky winger in the eighth minute.

It took Pirates 20 minutes to threatened Swallows after evergreen Benedict Vilakazi's cross was met by Mulondo Sikhwivhilu - but his header went straight to Etafia.
Known for his impatience, the DRC-born Mutombo replaced midfielder Bongani Cashibe a minute later with striker Bucuane and from there, Pirates looked the better side.

Vilakazi was bewitching and subtle taking out the opposition with simple passes. His combination play with enforcer Onyekachi Onkokwo was effective and attractive in the centre of midfield, but a lack of firepower up front was their main problem on the day.

Pirates created a succession of chances after the interval as they gave a much-improved second-half display - but they failed to beat Etafia.

Sensing trouble, Mutombo brought on Rudzani Ramudzuli in the 55th minute and Paulus Masehe 15 minutes later, but they both failed to go past Swallows' sturdy defence marshalled by Bevan Fransmann.

But what followed later was a glaring scoring chance for Bucuane, who failed to beat the advancing Etafia after a perfect through-ball, and Vilakazi was unlucky as he just failed to connect with Innocent Mdledle's cross with time ticking away.

Pirates have so much to do if they are to move away from relegation zone as they are currently on 14 points after 13 matches. But with Mutombo promising an improved team, it remains to been when that will happen. For now, however, it is safe to say that Pirates are struggling.

The teams:

Pirates (4-5-1): Francis Chansa, Lucky Lekgwathi, Innocent Mdledle, Lucas Thwala, Lehlohonolo Seema, Onyekachi Onkokwo, Bongani Cashibe (Manuel Bucuane 21), Jorry Merahe (Rudzani Ramudzuli 54), Jabu Mahlangu, Benedict Vilakazi, Mulondo Sikhivhilu (Paulus Masehe 70).

Coach: Bibey Mutombo

Swallows (4-4-2): Greg Etafia, Tebogo Monyai, Lovers Mohlala, Bevan Fransmann, Patrick Mabedi, Goodman Mazibuko, Lefa Tsutsulupa, Cecil Oerson, Japhet Zwane, Mame Niang (Evans Gwekwerere 81), Songwe Chalwe (Tsweu Mokoro 70).

Coach: Gavin Hunt

Referee: Jerome Damon

Cautions: Oerson (12), Niang (50), Mohlala (90).

By Patrick Baloyi

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Sunday, January 28
Castle Premiership

Swallows v Premier United 
Kick-off: 3.45pm
Venue: Germiston Stadium

January 20
Castle Premiership
Draw 0-0 v Pirates
Venue: Ellis Park

January 14
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v Silver Stars
Venue: Germiston Stadium

January 10
Castle Premiership
Lost 0-1 v Supersport
 Loftus Stadium

Sunday, January 7
Castle Premiership
Draw 2-2 v Leopards
Germiston Stadium

Wednesday, December 20
Castle Premiership
Won 1-0 v AmaZulu
Venue: Princess Magogo

Which areas need reinforcement at Swallows?

Strike force