Orlando Pirates moved top of the standings after a hard-fought 1-0 league win over Marumo Gallants at Orlando Stadium on Wednesday night.
It was a night for a midfield battle as very few clear scoring opportunities were created.
Pirates were off to the perfect start when Paseka Mako scored in the third minute from close range on the rebound, after Zakhele Lepasa had struck the upright from the tightest of angles following a swift break down the right wing.
Bucs stayed in charge after taking the lead, although they were unable to create any further clear openings, the next shot coming in the 25th minute when Innocent Maela's volley was comfortably saved.
The visiting side meanwhile grew into the game, but also failed to click in the final third of the field as both goalkeepers generally had a quiet first half.
The next action only came two minutes before the break when Lepasa showed great pace to get onto Kabelo Dlamini's through ball, however, he was unable to hit the target after goalkeeper Washington Arubi quickly closed down the angle.
The game was on a knife-edge after the interval, Bucs wasted the chance to give themselves some breathing space when Lepasa missed a good chance on the hour mark.
Ten minutes later and the Sea Robbers suffered a big blow when central defenders Nkosinathi Sibisi and Tapelo Xoki clashed heads, resulting in the latter being stretchered off and being replaced by Olisa Ndah.
And a couple of minutes later, Sibisi also departed, being replaced by Dion Hotto.
The changes failed to make any significant impact on the game as both sides continued to huff and puff while trying to find openings.
Pirates’ commitment was on display again in the 88th minute when there was another clash of heads between two teammates focussing on winning the ball – this time it was Goodman Mosele and Bandile Shandu. Fortunately, both were able to finish the game.
As a result of the injuries, 10 minutes added time was played. The status quo remained – with no further chances at either end, the Buccaneers were able to hold on for victory comfortably in the end.