Home Sport Swallows score late to hold Pirates in Soweto derby

Swallows score late to hold Pirates in Soweto derby

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Kamohelo Mahlatsi scored the equaliser deep into stoppage time as Moroka Swallows held Soweto-rivals Orlando Pirates at Orlando Stadium.

Ruzaigh Gamildien of Swallows FC challenges Thulani Hlatshwayo of Orlando Pirates during their DStv Premiership match at Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Sunday. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu, BackpagePix

Orlando Pirates and Swallows FC were made to settle for a share of the spoils after playing out to a 1-1 draw in the “Original Soweto derby” at a wet Orlando Stadium on Sunday afternoon in the DStv Premiership.

Ben Motswari scored in the last five minutes of the game, connecting with a loose ball which he thumped with precision outside the 18-area to rattle the roof of Virgil Vries’ net. But Swallows didn’t give up, Kamohelo Mahlatsi equalising with a tap-in late into stoppage time.

With this draw, the Bucs dropped to sixth on the standings. But Swallows, who consolidated their unbeaten record this season, remained second with 22 points, two behind leaders and champions Mamelodi Sundowns.

The sticky surface in Soweto didn’t make things easy for either side. But it was Swallows that appeared to be hellbent on finding the early breakthrough away from home. However, some stern goalkeeping from Wayne Sandilands kept Pirates in the game early in the first half.

Former Pirates captain Thabo Matlaba was the first to test the waters, unleashing a long-range shot that bounced off the waterlogged surface in front of Sandilands before the latter made a diving save to parry the danger away from goal to safety.

Matlaba, soon thereafter, had to be taken off on stretcher after pulling a hamstring. But the Birds didn’t drop their heads. Such that their efforts should have paid off before the half-an-hour mark had Ruzaigh Gamildien’s close-range effort not been impressively saved by Sandilands.

After the half-an-hour mark, Bucs flipped the script to grab the bull by the horns as the showers lowered down. Wingback Wayde Jooste was unfortunate not to give his side the lead, after some lovely footwork down the flank resulted in him taking a close-range shot.

Swallows’ goalkeeper Virgil Vries, however, made his first save of the game from the resulting chance, parrying the effort away for a corner-kick – a set piece opportunity that Pirates had failed to capitalise on, on numerous occasions as Swallows cleared their lines.

The two sides had similar opportunities towards the close of the half, using short passes to create pockets of space. But that didn’t yield any result as the inroads to either half lacked the killer instinct that would provide the all-important breakthrough.

The Buccaneers started the second stanza as the better side, looking to build up play from the back. But that wasn’t as effective as expected; instead it was Swallows that nearly scored with their first realistic forays into the Bucs final third.

Sandilands, though, saved his team from the blushes, blocking Gamildien on a one-on-one duel with a gliding tackle after a sumptuous through-ball from Fawaaaz Basadien.

With barely 20 minutes left in regulation time, Pirates had a shout for a penalty after Fortune Makaringe was gruesomely fouled by Sandile Mthethwa in the box. But referee Jelly Chavani was not interested, instead cautioning the former for simulation.

In the end, both sides snatched a point, Motswari scoring five minutes before regulation time, while Mahlatsi equalised at the death for the Birds who are having a dream return to top-flight football.

@Mihlalibaleka