Marumo Gallants 1-1 Orlando Pirates (5-4 pens): Bahlabane Ba Ntwa stun Bucs to advance in Nedbank Cup
Junior Dion, Marumo Gallants & Goodman Mosele, Orlando Pirates, March 2022
The eight-time winners were eliminated by the defending champions in an enthralling clash which was played at Peter Mokaba Stadium

Orlando Pirates bowed out of this season's Nedbank Cup after losing 5-4 on penalties against Marumo Gallants following a 1-1 draw in a Last 16 encounter on Wednesday night.

Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo continued his excellent form as he opened the scoring to hand Bahlabane Ba Ntwa the lead, but the Buccaneers fought back and levelled matters through Bandile Shandu in an entertaining encounter which saw neither side sit back and invite pressure. 

Richard Ofori, Happy Jele, Goodman Mosele and Zakhale Lepasa were recalled to the starting line-up as Pirates looked to return to winning ways after losing 2-1 to their archrivals Kaizer Chiefs in a titanic PSL match last weekend. Ofori was making his first appearance for the Soweto giants since August last year after he recovered from a long-term injury. 

The Buccaneers were up against an in-form Gallants side which had won four successive matches across all competitions. Bucs had to find a way to neutralise Ndlondlo, who had scored five goals in his last three games, while former Pirates winger Joseph Molangoane was also in good form having revived his career at Bahlabane Ba Ntwa. 

Ndlondlo became a thorn in the side of Bucs from the first minute as the diminutive playmaker pulled the trigger from range and forced goalkeeper Ofori into a spectacular diving save. The hosts were then awarded a penalty after Jele was adjudged to have fouled the troublesome Molangoane in the visitors' box and Ndlondlo beat Ofori from the spot-kick to hand Gallants a 1-0 lead in the 20th minute.

Pirates then took control of the match with Thabang Monare pulling the strings from midfield and he was able to test keeper King Ndlovu, who produced a smart low save. Lepasa was able to get himself in goalscoring positions, but the former TS Galaxy striker was let down by poor finishing as he failed to hit the target with only Ndlovu to beat after being set up by Deon Hotto.

However, Lepasa did make amends when he provided the assist for Bandile Shandu to level matters on the half-hour mark. The Bucs academy product played a defence-splitting pass for Shandu whose first-time shot beat Ndlovu at the near-post to make it 1-1 and it was the attack-minded full-back's seventh goal of the season. The score was 1-1 at the interval. 

Both teams launched attacks after the restart with Gallants not allowing Pirates to exert pressure on them and control the game. Hotto hit the crossbar from a well-taken free-kick and Kwame Peprah's header from the rebound was comfortably saved by Ndlovu. At the other end, Ofori gathered long-range attempts from Ndlondlo and Katlego Otladisa with ease.

Co-coaches Mandla Ncikazi and Fadlu Davids refreshed Bucs' attack as they introduced Tshegofatso Mabasa and Thembinkosi Lorch just after the hour-mark. Lorch looked to make an immediate impact after being afforded space on the edge of the hosts' box, but his curling shot was superbly saved by Ndlovu.

Ultimately, the encounter ended in a 1-1 draw in regulation time and extra-time followed. Both teams created chances in extra-time with Mabasa hitting the crossbar after being sent through on goal and at the other end, Ndlondlo's attempt was brilliantly finger-tipped over the crossbar by Ofori and the match was to be decided by a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw on the night. 

Gallants went on to secure a 5-4 win on penalties with Ndlovu converting the last spot-kick to send the defending champions to the quarter-finals and they will take on Chippa United in a PSL clash on March 16 in their next game. On the other hand, Pirates bowed out of the tournament which they have won eight times and the Soweto giants have now turned their attention to Sunday's Caf Confederation Cup match against Eswatini's Royal Leopards.