A few wins can change everything, and Orlando Pirates’ first Absa Premiership in victory 12 matches, 2-0 against Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium on Tuesday night, could well be the turning point that sees Bucs into the top eight.
Following on an impressive 3-1 Nedbank Cup last-16 victory against Free State Stars in Orkney, Ayanda Gcaba’s 13th-minute header and substitute Dove Wome’s 79th-minute finish gave Bucs a second win in a row.
Maritzburg were reduced to 10 men when they had centerback Brian Onyango sent off for a second bookable offence in the 61st.
Slowly Bucs coach Kjell Jonevret’s gameplan with his current resources is taking shape as the coach earned his first league win.
There are so many creaking joints in this stuttering machine, though, that a little oiling will only go so far overnight.
But Pirates are looking more menacing than at any time since the start of the season, and the worst of their storm appears to have finally passed for the Buccaneer ship.
The utilisation of Issa Sarr and Abbubaker Mobara as a hard-working central midfield partnership who close spaces has been a clever early innovation from Jonevret, and they have brought stability and structure.
Against Fadlu Davids’s well-drilled, talented and hungry Maritzburg, Pirates did enough through some simple but effective passing, though mostly grit and hard work, to earn the three points.
A low-on-confidence Pirates need to discover their graft and teamwork for each other before anything more cultured can emerge.
They did the simple things well against Maritzburg, and for any coach trying to cure an ailment, that is certainly a start.
The Buccaneers took the lead when, from an Oupa Manyisa corner, Ayanda Gcaba got up above the defence and the centreback’s header was powerful, finding goalkeeper Virgil Vries in no-man’s land and going in off a defender.
Maritzburg did look threatening going forward. Their best chance of the half came when Andrea Fileccia’s cross from left midfield found right wing-back Sandile Shandu free to control and shoot, Siyabonga Mpontshane pulling off a fine save.
In injury time Maritzburg’s highly rated central midfielder Lebogang Maboe shot powerfully, Mpontshane taking at the second attempt.
On a counterattack just back from the change-rooms Thembinkosi Lorch split the defence but Tendai Ndoro lacked composure with just Vries to beat, blasting high.
Onyango, who had brought down Mpho Makola on the edge of the area in the first half, clumsily fouled Ndoro near the touchline, and received his second yellow card from referee Thando Ndzandzeka.
Bucs’ effective combinations deserved something.
They produced a fine movement in the final third for their second, Makola’s pass from the left finding Ndoro on the edge of the area for the simplest of small touches into the path of Wome, whose finish had a touch of class.