By CHRIS TOTOBELA
Last Saturday, SAB league strugglers City Pirates hosted mid-table United Eleven from Bathurst in a very tough and exciting encounter. A huge crowd gathered at JD Dlepu stadium to witness this clash. Both teams started very well, taking the game to each other, but it was the visitors who seemed to settle much quicker. Pirates’ goalkeeper was called into action very early on in the game and he made some breathtaking saves to keep the score level. Pirates grew slowly into the game and started spreading some nice and effective passes which gave United’s defenders a lot to think about.
Pirates veteran campaigner Malibongwe Hempe had several good chances to put his side ahead but failed to make them count. Both teams went to the halftime break with no goals to show for their great display. A couple of substitutions were made by both teams in the second half which injected a bit of pace in the game. United looked hungrier in the early stages of the second stanza and created a lot of chances which they failed to use.
City Pirates became stronger towards the end of the game and troubled United with their pace. They had nice build-ups but always stumbled in the final third. Aphelele Tyelbooi had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring when he took United’s right back to the cleaners and came one on one with the keeper. But instead of taking the shot, he opted to wait and try to beat the poor right back again while allowing United’s defenders to regroup and they cleared the ball. United nearly stole it in the end when their striker outran Pirate’s defenders and forced the keeper to come out of his box and cleared the ball off his feet while he was trying to round him off.
The football-loving crowd enjoyed this thrill a minute game and were very sad to hear the final whistle. This was an entertaining goalless draw which was handled very well by the referee. Both United and Pirates will still be glued at sixth and eight respectively on the log with Makana Pillars rock bottom. Maru are second, trailing the log leaders Manchester United by a single point, but still have a game in hand.