Pirates, Swallows in tense draw
Orlando Pirates star Manuel 'Tico Tico' Bucuane scored a crucial equaliser as his side managed to grab a valuable 2-2 draw against Moroka Swallows in Castle Premiership action at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Wednesday evening.
By the time the Gavin Hunt-coached Swallows looked set to end their Soweto counterparts' three-match unbeaten streak, the Mozambican international rose high to score the 'Buccaneers' most important goal to salvage a point and thereby remaining four matches unbeaten, something unprecedented during former coach Milutin Sredojevic's time in charge.
Whilst all antagonists had already forgotten about him after stints with Mamelodi Sundowns and Jomo Cosmos, Swallows defender Lovers Mohlala scored a thunderbolt goal in the third minute - a sure contender for goal of the season - to put Swallows 1-0 ahead; indicating that his presence in the 'Dube Birds' nest was not a fluke after Hunt was initially castigated for luring him to the club.
But after that goal, Pirates challenged and contested for each loose ball and responded swiftly as new wonderboy Bennett Chenene scored just four minutes later when Swallows captain Goodman Mazibuko tried to clear; only for the ball to fall in the former Amazulu player's path.
Pirates striker Fikru Terefa found an obdurate Swallows defence in a mean mood as the Ethiopian striker missed a clear header five minutes later when he could have given his side the lead.
Towering Swallows striker Mame Niang was then left unmarked as his low shot hit the upright only for stylish and crafty midfielder Lefa Tsutsulupa to tap into the empty net to make the scoreline 2-1 to Swallows in the 13th minute.
The home team's Songwe Chalwe should have increased the margin straight afterwards, but he failed to beat 'Bucs' 'keeper Francis Chansa, despite having been left unmarked.
But Pirates did not give up and they began to dictate terms after the interval and when Bucuane was left unmarked - after Lucky Lekgwathi's cross - he headed home a remarkable goal; atoning for his miss during the first-round Premiership clash between these two teams.
With both teams huffing and puffing, more chances were created with substitutes coming in for both sides, but the stalemate was probably a fair result.
Swallows (4-4-2): Greg Etafia, Lovers Mohlala, Patrick Mabedi, Rudi Isaacs, Bevan Fransmann, Goodman Mazibuko, Lefa Tsutsulupa, Japhet Zwane (Evans Gwekwerere, 77), Cecil Oerson (Mark Haskins, 68), Songwe Chalwe (Thulani Ncephe, 65), Mame Niang.
Pirates (4-4-1-1): Francis Chansa, Lucky Lekgwathi, Innocent Mdledle, Lehlohonolo Seema, Lucas Thwala, Benedict Vilakazi, Rudzani Ramudzi, Benedict Chenene (Jurry Merahe, 77), Thapelo Leshabane, Manuel Bucuane (Gary McNab, 77), Fikru Tefera (Mulondo Sikhwivhilu, 46).
Referee: Daniel Bennett
Cautions: Mabedi 71; Chenene 78
By Patrick Baloyi