Result: Orlando Pirates 1-1 Highlands Park
Date: 04 August 2018
Venue: Orlando Stadium
Orlando Pirates did not get the start they wanted as they began the 2018-2019 Absa Premiership season with a 1-1 draw against newly-promoted Highlands Park.
The pressure applied by Highlands saw the Bucs goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands make a horrible error in the 16th minute by trying to clear a back pass from Gladwin Shitolo but he mistimed it completely and it rolled into the back of the net, 0-1.
Milutin Sredojevic’s charges upped their game towards the 25th minute and pushed for the equaliser but they were rushing their moves.
Vincent Pule was unlucky not to have found the equaliser for the Soweto giants seven minutes before the break with a cracking free-kick from the edge of the box that came off the underside of the crossbar.
Pule fashioned another beautiful strike for the Bucs from just outside the box four minutes before the break but his effort missed slightly wide.
The hosts could not get back into the game as Owen Da Gama’s troops took the 1-0 lead into the break.
Innocent Maela should have done better for the Buccaneers four minutes into the second stanza after guiding a free-header over the bar following free-kick into the area.
Justin Shonga eventually equalised for the Soweto giants two minutes after the hour shortly after coming on as a second half substitute with a superb penalty after Augustine Mulenga was brought down inside the box.
The hosts had the momentum with 20 minutes remaining, while Kudakwashe Mahachi was handed his debut, replacing Paseko Mako.
However, the pace of the match was struggling to pick up with a quarter of an hour remaining mainly due to numerous substitutions and some fatigue beginning to show.
Mulenga almost snatched the winner for the hosts six minutes before time with a cracking strike from range but Highlands Park shot-stopper Tapuwa Kapini made a brilliant save.
The visitors defended in numbers towards the end, which paid off in the end as they secured a point in their opening game of the season.
Here's how they lined up:
Pirates: Pirates: Sandilands, Jele, Shitolo, Maela, Dube, Mlambo, Nyatama, Lorch (Shonga 55'), Pule (Mahlonoko 89'), Mako (Mahachi 66'), Mulenga.
Subs: Mpontshane, Thopola, Motshwari, Makola, Mahlonoko, Mahachi, Shonga.
Highlands: Kapini, Fransman, Motsepe, Mokoena, Ramoraka, Motlafi, Haoseb, Mahlangu, Rae (Masimango 81'), Nyembe (Ngebo 86'), Mbatha (Versuur 74').
Subs: Heugh, Sibande, Ngebo, Williams, Sekola, Versuur, Msimango.