PSL Roundup: Pirates have the lead… And… it’s gone.
Jason Voorhees never dies and neither do teams that fall behind to Pirates.
Pirates played twice this week and in each game they leapt out to a 2-0 lead, but had to settle for one draw and one nail-biting win.
Cape Town City traveled to Soweto on Wednesday fresh off a 4-1 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs. Pirates (1st4-2-2, 14pts) happily piled onto City’s struggles and excited the home fans with two goals in the first 20 minutes.
But like a horror movie villain left for dead, City (11th1-3-2, 6pts) sparked back to life in the second half. In the 69thminute, Ayanda Patosi took a ball off his chest and hit a shot on the volley that Pirates goalkeeper Siyabonga Mpontshane was helpless to stop. Eight minutes later Patosi scored the equalizer on a free kick. The game ended as a 2-2 draw and dropped points at home for a Pirates team that expects to be challenging Mamelodi Sundowns for the PSL title.
That horror show of a second half by Pirates provided an extremely shaky foundation for its away game on Saturday at Baroka. To the team’s credit, Pirates put the previous game’s collapse in their collective rearview mirror with a quick succession of strikes. Vincent Pule bossed the play early on, scoring the game’s opening goal in the 32ndminute and provided an assist for Thembinkosi Lorch’s goal six minutes later.
But Pule’s individual brilliance dimmed as Baroka bombed forward towards the Pirates goal following halftime. The second half saw Baroka narrowly miss chance after chance as Pirates desperately tried to hold the lead. Baroka finally hit the back of the net with Onkabetse Makgantai’s goal in the 79thminute, but Pirates escaped by the skin of their teeth with a 2-1 win.
Twice in one week Pirates have been less effective at killing off games than the teens in the Friday the 13th franchise who finally manage to kill Jason Voorhees only to have him come back time and time again in sequels and reboots.
The upshot of being unable to hold leads and dropping points at home has Pirates looking like the horror movie cliché where a character is running away from the movie monster successfully, but keeps tripping and falling down so that the villain can catch up.
Every time Pirates – who, prior to this week, looked like the most complete team not named Mamelodi Sundowns – drop points, as it did on Wednesday, the other title pursuers gain ground. With Sundowns and Chiefs menacingly chasing Pirates, who currently occupy the top spot in the league, the Bucs look increasingly less likely to make it out of the movie unscathed.
Bidvest Wits 0
Polokwane City 1
Speaking of choking and dropping points in games you should win, Wits (2nd4-1-2, 13pts) wasted every opportunity it had in a 1-0 defeat against visiting Polokwane City (6th3-1-2, 10pts). City was down to 10 men after just 22 minutes when Sulalani Phiri inexplicably scissored his legs around Thabang Monare’s knees at midfield. That bad decision by one Polokwane player led to bad finishing by every Wits player. Even with the man advantage, Wits was woeful in the final third. Wits opened the season with seven goals in its first three games. In the four games since then, Wits has been held scoreless three times. When Jabulani Maluleke unleashed a rocket of a freekick past the Wits wall and into the net to secure City’s win, it pulled Wits off the top of the table and put to bed the hopes that Wits was going to be an expansive, goal-scoring machine this season.
GOLDEN ARROWS 0
MAMELODI SUNDOWNS 1
While Wits and Pirates were dealing with inconsistency, Sundowns (7th2-3-0, 9pts) was clinical in a 1-0 road win over Golden Arrows. Lebohang Maboe scored just before halftime and Sundowns closed up shop in the second half to preserve the lead. It wasn’t exciting, but it worked and Sundowns are threateningly five points out of first place with three games in hand.
FREE STATE STARS 0
KAIZER CHIEFS 2
Once again an industrious striker paired nicely with Khama Billiat in a Chiefs win. With the Free State defense devoting it’s attention to the in-form Billiat, Gustavo Paez slipped in behind the defenders and chipped the goalie to put Chiefs (3rd3-4-1, 13pts) ahead. Nine minutes later, Philani Zulu scored for the second straight game and Chiefs kept Free State at arm’s length for the rest of the contest.
KAIZER CHIEFS 2
Like its rivals Pirates, Chiefs had two games this week and broke out to a 2-0 lead in both. Unlike Pirates, Chiefs held that advantage without much trouble. AmaZulu (9th2-1-3, 7pts) struggled to even get a sight at goal and only a few messy moments the Chiefs backline made the game look like anything other than a cakewalk.
FREE STATE STARS 1
HIGHLANDS PARK 0
Not one, but two team won games this weekend despite being reduced to 10 players via a redcard. While Polokwane scored on Wits despite its numerical disadvantage, Free State (10th2-1-4, 7pts) took the easier route, going ahead on a goal by Tshepho Tema in the 57thminute and then hanging on to beat visiting Highlands (8th1-4-1, 7pts) after Nyiko Mobbie was sent off in the 75thminute. The loss was the first of the season for newly promoted Highlands.
BLOEMFONTEIN CELTIC 0
MARITZBURG UNITED 1
No one expected a Maritzburg side that came into the game with only one goal on the season to unlock the leagues best defense, but that’s exactly what happened. Bandile Shandu put Martizburg (13th1-2-2, 5pts) up in just the game’s second minute of play as Celtic (4th4-1-1, 13pts) was handed its first defeat of the season. The win over Celtic follows two goalless draws by Martizburg so that now the side is joint bottom with three other teams at five points. Celtic are stuck at 13 points and tied for second with two games in hand over table-toppers Pirates.
BLACK LEOPARDS 0
A rampant SuperSport (5th4-0-2, 12pts) side made the visiting Black Leopards (16th1-2-3, 5pts) look like the newly promoted team it is. After opening the season with a loss to Cape Town City, SuperSport has been reliably solid. With two games in hand, SuperSport are one point off the top spot and have a shot at some silverware this weekend as the team faces Cape Town City again, this time in the MTN8 Cup Final.
GOLDEN ARROWS 0
CHIPPA UNITED 0
Golden Arrows (12th1-3-3, 6pts) had two games this week and didn’t score in either. In fact, Arrows have scored only four times this season. That ties them for second worst in the league with Chippa (14th1-2-3, 5pts). So a 0-0 draw was on the cards.