Josef Zinnbauer (Press Association)
It was honours even at Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday evening as Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates and Swallows FC played to an entertaining 1-1 draw in the Dstv Premiership.
The Dube Birds claimed the lead against the run of play in the first half as Thulani Hlatshwayo put the ball into his own in the 15th minute. However, the Buccaneers would eventually draw level in the 75th minute thanks to Tshegofatso Mabasa, setting up a tense finish to the encounter.
Pirates started the match on the front foot but despite dominating possession of the ball and creating the lion’s share of goal scoring chances, they would go into the half-time break trailing.
Vincent Pule proved to be a real threat early on, twice forcing Swallows goalkeeper Virgil Vries into action in the opening 15-minute spell before Ntsikelelo Nyauza somehow failed to hit the target from close range following a set-piece situation.
However, it was the hosts who claimed the lead against the run of play on 15 minutes as Hlatshwayo deflected a shot on goal into his own net.
Swallows very nearly added a second goal just three minutes later but Pirates keeper Wayne Sandilands was alert to the danger, saving Zaphaniah Mbokoma’s header as it flew towards the top corner.
Pule had another chance to open the Buccaneers’ account in the 25th minute but fired narrowly wide from the right side of the box after being teed up by Abel Mabaso.
For Swallows, meanwhile, Musa Nyatama and Njabulo Ngcobo squandered later attempts on goal while at the opposite end of the pitch, Ben Motshwari saw his speculative effort from range snapped up by Vries.
And there was very little else in the way of goalmouth action in the remaining minutes of the half as Swallows held a slender advantage heading into the interval.
Chasing the game in the second half, Pirates piled on the pressure as Swallows opted to sit deep and soak up the pressure with a view to hitting the visitors on the counter.
Deon Hotto went agonisingly close to levelling matters in the 53rd minute as his goalbound shot was cleared off the line by the Swallows defence, with Pule heading wide from the resulting corner.
After a brief lull in play, Swallows gave the Buccaneers a scare in the 74th minute as Ruzaigh Gamildien let fly from the right side of the box. However, Sandilands was equal to the task once again, denying Swallows a second goal.
And that stop proved to be decisive as Pirates went on to restore parity one minute later, Tshegofatso Mabasa heading home from the centre of the box after Wayde Jooste sent a flighted delivery into the danger area.
Pirates fashioned two more noteworthy chances in the final stretch of the match but they were unable to find a way past Vries, with Makaringe and Hlatshwayo both denied a potential match-winner by the Namibia international.