Maritzburg United claimed a surprise 1-0 home win over Orlando Pirates at the Harry Gwala Stadium on Sunday evening, preventing the Soweto giants from returning to the top of the DStv Premiership.
A win for the Buccaneers would have seen them reclaim pole position from Royal AM, but instead a late penalty from Amadou Soukouna took the Team of Choice to victory, with the result meaning the Soweto side are third on 11 points, with Maritzburg two points and four positions further back.
Pirates created all of the early attacking pressure in the game and came closest to opening the scoring in the fifth minute when Fortune Makaringe managed to turn and shoot inside a crowded penalty area, but his effort flashed wide of the target.
The teams then traded spells of pressure, before a floodlight failure forced a temporary suspension of the match.
Pirates suffered an injury blow when forward Vincent Pule pulled up with what appeared to be a thigh or groin issue, and Zakhele Lepasa was introduced as a substitute in the 39th minute.
The next major chance went the way of Maritzburg in the 45th minute when Amadou Soukouna burst through the defence and got away a low shot on his left foot, but the effort was smothered by Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori.
A further 10 minutes of injury time followed (accounting for that lost during the floodlight failure), but neither team could find a way through the other’s defence – though Soukouna almost produced an opener with a low shot through the legs of Olisa Ndah which required a sharp save at his near post from Ofori.
The Buccaneers started the second half strongly and nearly broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart, as Innocent Maela got on the end of Thabang Monare’s free kick and glanced a header just wide of the target.
That chance signalled the start of a strong period of dominance from the visitors, who were able to push into Maritzburg’s final third at will, though clear scoring chances were hard to come by.
One notable exception was in the 65th minute when Lepasa drove forward from inside his own half and sliced through the hosts’ defence, but his hopes of a brilliant solo goal were dashed when his shot skipped just wide of goalkeeper King Ndlovu’s left-hand post.
On 79 minutes Maritzburg were awarded a debatable penalty when substitute Siboniso Conco claimed a trip from Ndah while trying to chase down a long ball – and referee Tshidiso Maruping agreed, pointing to the spot. Soukouna took on the kick and struck home to put the Team of Choice 1-0 up.
Pirates pushed hard for an equaliser in what remained of the game, but United’s resilient defence held firm and secured a famous win for the KwaZulu-Natal club.
The teams will return to DStv Premiership action next weekend, with Maritzburg hosting SuperSport United on Friday 9 September, and Pirates welcoming TS Galaxy to Soweto the following day.
Maritzburg United (0) 1 (Soukouna 80’ pen)
Orlando Pirates 0
Maritzburg United:Ndlovu, Moloisane, Hlongwa, Makume, Sam (Monamodi 46’), Theron (Baloyi 72’), Palace (Human 72’), Mashikinya, Kimvuidi (Conco 71’), Njoti (Samu 61’), Soukouna
Orlando Pirates:Ofori, Ndah, Sibisi, Maela, Shandu (Tlolane 84’), Timm, Makaringe (Makgaka 85’), Monare (Motshwari 74’), Mako, Pule (Lepasa 39’), Eva Nga (Peprah 84’)
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