Tshegofatso Mabasa scored a quick-fire brace at Orlando Stadium on Saturday afternoon to secure Orlando Pirates a 2-1 league win over Chippa United – putting an end to a run of six matches in all competitions without victory.
The three points – a first for Rhulani Mokwena since taking charge as caretaker coach, were just what Pirates needed as they ended a three-match winless run of games in the league, during which time they had failed to score.
Mabasa, who joined the Soweto team in pre-season after scoring regularly for Bloemfontein Celtic last season, netted with two well-taken goals in the 55th and 60th minutes after what had been a frustrating opening half for the Sea Robbers.
The Chilli Boys pulled a one back through Lerato Manzini in the 79th minute to set up a tense ending to the match.
Pirates had dominated first half proceedings in terms of ball possession, but the problem was that they lacked the creativity and cutting edge to unlock a resolute Chippa defence.
Bucs’ best chance of the opening stanza came after seven minutes, when after they won possession and launched a quick counter, Xola Mlambo slipped in Mabasa, but from close range he fired his shot straight at goalkeeper Patrick Tingyemb.
At the other end of the park, Pirates keeper Joris Delle was having a quiet debut and apart from dealing with a couple of crosses, the Frenchman had very little work to do.
Not that Tingyemb was much busier, because when Pirates did create a rare chance on goal, they failed to find the target, as was the case when Siphesihle Ndlovu blasted over a volley on the half hour mark.
That proved to be it really for first half action as the Buccaneers continued to do very little with all the possession they were enjoying, while Chippa rarely got anywhere near their opponents’ goal.
Pirates came out after the restart playing with increased intensity and they created a good chance in the 48th minute when after some intricate play, the ball fell to Thabiso Monyane on the edge of the box, but the substitute lifted his shot over the bar.
However, the opener wasn’t long in coming as Augustine Mulenga won the ball in midfield and then moved forwards with purpose before playing a clever reverse ball to set up Mabasa, who finished coolly with a first-time shot into the bottom corner.
The second came five minutes later, Monyane the instigator as he burst down the right wing before cutting the ball back for Mabasa, who swivelled beautifully before scoring from a few yards out.
The Bucs fans now in full voice and their side playing with their tails up, more chances followed soon after, but none of Mabasa, Thembinkosi Lorch or Fortune Makaringe were able to make it count.
Instead, the visitors were to ensure an anxious finish when they scored with 11 minutes to play as Lerato Manzini slid the ball over the line from close range after Delle had only managed to parry a stinging free kick from Rhulani Manzini.
Indeed, with Chippa now buoyed by their goal, the closing minutes had the Pirates fans and the technical team chewing their nails as the hosts just about managed to hold on for the win.