Chippa still winless under Middendorp

BLOCKED OUT: Chippa United’s Happy Jele, centre, fights for the ball against Orlando Pirates’ Andile Mbenyane, left, and Sifiso Myeni during their Absa Premiership match at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto last night
BLOCKED OUT: Chippa United’s Happy Jele, centre, fights for the ball against Orlando Pirates’ Andile Mbenyane, left, and Sifiso Myeni during their Absa Premiership match at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto last night

Pirates’ win keep them in title race as Chilli Boys near relegation zone

CHIPPA United’s relegation woes deepened when they lost 2-0 to in-form Orlando Pirates in an Absa Premiership match at Orlando Stadium last night. The Buccaneers extended their unbeaten run to 11 games and moved to 40 points to keep up their slim hopes in the title race.

Mpho Makola scored inside the first six minutes with a header and Sifiso Myeni added a second in the 27th minute as Pirates set aside the disappointment of two successive draws in their last matches and are now 11 points behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs, albeit having played one match more.

The result lifted Pirates to second place on goals scored over Mamelodi Sundowns and goal difference over Bidvest Wits. But Sundowns have two games in hand, including one tonight at home to Polokwane City.

Pirates were on fire from the start with some sweeping passing moves, but also took advantage of errors by the team from Port Elizabeth, who are still just five points above the relegation zone and awaiting a first win under new coach Ernst Middendorp.

Gert Barends’s miscue allowed Myeni to set up Makola’s opener with a square pass, while Thandani Ntshumayelo disposed Buyani Sali in the Chippa midfield before he set off to provide Myeni for the second goal. Oupa Manyisa distracted the visiting defence with a clever decoy run.

Manysia might have had a goal of his own after nine minutes when he and Ntshumaleyo were involved in a sharp passing move, but he blasted straight at Chippa goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela, who later saved at point blank range from Kermit Erasmus after dropping a corner into the path of the Pirates striker.

At the other end, Pirates goalkeeper Brighton Mhlongo made a save from James Okwuosa’s header, but replays showed he knew little about it as the ball struck him firmly in the face.

Meanwhile, AmaZulu showed further resilience when they beat Wits 3-1 at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban last night.

While the KwaZulu-Natal spotlight has been firmly fixed on AmaZulu’s struggles at the bottom of the table, it has allowed Maritzburg United’s slump to go unchecked, even though they have not been sucked into the relegation dogfight.

They are winless in eight matches and have quietly slipped out of the top eight and have lost steam.

With log-leaders Kaizer Chiefs visiting the Team of Choice at the Harry Gwala Stadium tonight, United will be hard-pressed to rein in the Kaizer Chiefs’ train.

-Mark Gleeson

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