Orlando Pirates claimed their first-ever win over Royal AM when they emerged as 1-0 winners in a Premier Soccer League encounter which was played on Wednesday night.
Deon Hotto's first-half goal proved to be the difference between the two teams in an entertaining encounter that took place at the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium which was packed with 30,000 passionate fans. Royal finished the game with 10 players after Shadrack Kobedi was sent off.
Having suffered his first defeat as a Pirates coach when the Buccaneers succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Chippa United on Sunday, Jose Riveiro made three changes to starting line-up. Bienvenu Eva Nga, Miguel Timm and Kabelo Dlamini were the three new faces in the starting line-up.
Bucs were up against a wounded Royal side having succumbed to a 3-1 defeat to Stellenbosch FC last weekend which was the Durban side's maiden loss of the campaign. Thwihli Thwahla's co-coaches Dan Malesela, Abram Nteo and Khabo Zondo adopted an attacking approach.
Royal looked to attack Pirates' defence with pace from the first minute with speedsters Kabelo Mahlasela and Tebogo Potsane causing havoc for the visitors' slow backline. Mahlasela beat his marker before playing a through pass for Potsane who outpaced his marker, but goalkeeper Richard Ofori came out and snatched the ball away.
The Buccaneers managed to weather the early storm and began launching attacks through the wings which led to the only goal of the match. Dlamini played the ball out wide for Thabiso Monyane whose cross from the right was turned home by Hotto to hand Pirates a 1-0 lead in the 34th minute.
The two teams then attacked each other with neither side ready to sit back and allow the other to dictate terms. However, there were no clear cut chances as possession was given away cheaply in the final third with the half-time break approaching and Pirates were leading 1-0 at the interval courtesy of Hotto's maiden goal of the campaign.
The Soweto giants were the better side after the restart as they controlled the match and pushed for their second goal of the game. Substitute Vincent Pule came close to scoring when his rasping shot from a free-kick was spectacularly finger-tipped over the crossbar by keeper Xolani Ngcobo.
Mfundo Thikazi, who scored a late equalising goal to ensure that Royal held Pirates to a 2-2 draw in Durban last season, came on for the hosts. Riveiro reacted by introducing Thabang Monare who sat deep in midfield - offering protection for the Buccaneers defence.
The momentum was with Thwihli Thwahla in the latter stages of the game as they pushed for a late equalising goal, but the hosts were reduced to 10 players after Kobedi picked up his second yellow card of the game and the hard-working midfielder was sent off in stoppage time.
Ultimately, the game ended in a 1-0 win in favour of Pirates who will be away to SuperSport United on Sunday, while Royal are set to host Marumo Galants on the same day.