Two men made all the difference as Orlando Pirates snatched valuable away points at Ajax Cape Town on Tuesday, Tendai Ndoro keeping up his scoring form and Brighton Mhlongo making key saves when it mattered to ensure the 2-1 win.
Ndoro now has a total of five goals from his first two league games of the season while Mhlongo made it clear that Pirates had erred by leaving him out of the first two games of the season with a sparkling performance in goal.
Ajax were unlucky not to have a share of the spoils as the dominated possession and shots but did not reckon on the predatory skills of the Zimbabwean hitman. The home side will feel hard done by but keep up their poor run of results against the Sea Robbers.
Pirates looked disjointed and second rate through the opening 20 minutes, and left coach Muhsin Ertugral in fits of anger on the sideline, as the home side dominated the early exchanges.
Nathan Paulse’s role as a target man had the Pirates defence under siege as Ajax collected a steady steam of corner and kept Mhlongo on his toes.
With Thabo Mosadi teasing down the right wing and delivering a regular supply of crosses into the box, it looked only a matter of time before the home side would break the deadlock.
They came closest in the 21st minute when Roscoe Pietersen’s effort was cleared off the line by Bucs sipper Oupa Manyisa.
It was not until just before the half hour mark that Pirates had a first decent effort as Bernard Morrison was given too much space in the Ajax penalty box and managed to turn cleverly but put his shot over the top.
Paulse showed some skills with a back heel from a cross that Mhlongo was alert to but it was almost out of nothing that Pirates took the lead.
A one-two between Mpho Makola and Ndoro saw the Zimbabwean steam down on goal and Brandon Petersen come out of the Ajax goal but miss the challenge to allow the Pirates striker to score.
Two minutes later Manyisa stole the ball in midfield, threaded a perfect ball straight down the centre for Ndoro, who evaded the tackle of Pietersen and picked his spot to make it 2-0.
The game had turned on its head in just a matter of 120 seconds, with Ajax looking shell shocked after seeing their dominant role stripped from them.
Mosa Lebusa had a chance to pull one back with a free header at the back post at the end of the first half but botched the effort with an over anxious approach.
Pirates changed their shape at half-time but were caught napping when Paulse got between the defence to pull one back in the 53rd minute with an easy header.
Ajax then laid siege to the Pirates goal as the Buccaneers tired and, in the end, Mhlongo maed the difference with some key saves.
Mark Mayambela, coming on for his Ajax defence, whistled a shot just wide of goal with only minutes left before Mhlongo pulled out a brilliant stop to deny Bantu Mzwakali deep in stoppage time to keep the victory intact. source www.timeslive.co.za