Maritzburg United bounced back from their first home defeat of the season with a 2-1 win over Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium on Tuesday evening.
A first-half brace from Mohammed Anas moves the Team of Choice into third spot on the league standings, while Pirates slip to sixth with the match against Kaizer Chiefs looming.
Orlando Pirates head coach Vladimir Vermezovic made no fewer than six changes to the side that were held to a goalless draw by AmaTuks last time out, the Serbian born coach keeping an eye on the upcoming Soweto derby which will be played at the same venue on Saturday.
Steve Komphela, meanwhile, made two changes, with Anas and Thamsanqa Mkhize returning to the starting XI in place of Terrence Mandaza and Kwanda Mngonyama respectively.
The visitors got off to the perfect start, with Anas opening the scoring with two minutes on the clock. Thokozani Sekotlong turned his man before picking out the Ghanaian attacker who beat Brighton Mhlongo from close range.
The Buccaneers went in search of an immediate replay and finally got one through Kermit Erasmus following a sustained spell of pressure in the 33rd minute. A superb passage of interplay was finished off by the former SuperSport United striker, who was set-up by a returning Thabo Matlaba.
Matlaba turned villain on the cusp of halftime. Having played an integral part in the equaliser, the fullback made a complete hash of a long ball to let in Mondli Cele, who in turn picked out Anas who had the easiest of finishes to complete his double.
Thokozani Sekotlong should’ve extended the Team of Choice’s lead seven minutes into the second-half. Having beaten Mhlongo to the ball, the former University of Pretoria striker would have expected to find the back of the net, but could only manage to direct Mkhize’s corner-kick over the crossbar.
Pirates were finding it difficult to break down a resilient Maritzburg defence, while the visitors looked increasingly dangerous on the counter, with Cele forcing Mhlongo into a superb save in the 70th minute to keep the Sea Robbers in the game.
The Buccaneers pushed forward in search of the equaliser, but ultimately came up short as Komphela’s men held on for a memorable win.
Orlando Pirates (1) 1 (Erasmus 33’)
Maritzburg United (2) 2 (Anas 2’ 45+3’)
Orlando Pirates: Mhlongo, Jele, Gcaba, Sangweni, Matlaba, Sarr, Makola, Manyisa, Masuku (Rakhale 63’), Myeni, Erasmus (Majoro 71’)
Maritzburg United: Vries, Mabaso, Banda, Pantsil, Hartog, Sekotlong, Cele, Vilakazi (Mngonyama 76’), Awal, Anas (Mandaza 61’), Mkhize (Lentjies 81’)