Pirates, hier’s jou geluk

Young Pirates celebrate their win in the SAFA Cape Town men's Coke Cup final.

Veteran Young Pirates striker Royston Lindsay scored his fourth goal in two matches when he netted the winner in his side’s 1-0 victory against Helderberg’s Two For Joy in this year’s Coke Cup final, at Athlone Stadium on Saturday.

The lanky forward was also on point in the semi-finals, where he almost single-handedly eliminated Mitchell’s Plain’s Beacon Spurs with a brilliant hat-trick to secure Pirates’ spot in Saturday’s final.

However, it took a collective effort to keep their stubborn opponents at bay. with goalkeeper Zaheer Meiring in superb form between the post and livewire winger Tasreek Judaar causing all the problems for the defence.

However, the vocal Pirates fans had to wait until late in the first half before Lindsay’s strike had caused an eruption that nearly blew the roof off the stadium. There were moments of panic though, as Two For Joy threatened to score early on but were prevented from doing so thanks to Meiring’s acrobatics.

Meiring and co would have been wary of their opponents’ goalscoring reputation as they demolished Hanover Park’s Melchester Rovers 5-1 in the semi-finals.

The fleet-footed keeper produced a stunning save from close range to deny the opposition a foot in the door.

A few minutes later, the Helderberg side thought they had a penalty but the referee, Akhona Ndzingo – who had an excellent game in the middle – dismissed their appeal and awarded them a free kick just outside the box.

The Strand-based side failed to make good use of that opportunity as the ball went wide for a corner kick.

From then on, the Heideveld side came back strongly, getting close on a number of occasions but their front runners couldn’t penetrate their opponents’ defence.

Judaar put in the hard yards up front, confusing the opposition defence with his trickery on the ball.

He was running riot down the left and the right flanks and would have been an ideal canididate for man of the match, had such an award been on offer.

Pirates were particularly impressive in the middle with Thembisile Salmani and Mthuthuzeli Matshabane pulling the strings in the middle.

They made sure that, after winning the battle in the middle, they played the ball over the opposition defence straight to the pacey Judaar.

But Pirates didn’t have it all their own way as the Two For Joy wall stood firm and they tried to catch their opponents on a counter. They just didn’t get the breakthrough they needed.

Pirates, on the other hand, used the one opportunity that came their way, with Lindsay scoring in the last minute of the first half.

The second half, especially in the early stages, proved to be a ding-dong affair as neither side really took charge of things.

The battle got tighter in the middle and, as a result, the strikers didn’t get enough supply to test the keepers. Two For Joy were, at that point, getting desperate for the equaliser but their opponents were not giving anything away. And, if they found the opening, Pirates goalie was always alert, protecting his side’s lead.

Pirates held on until the final whistle to record their first-ever Coke Cup victory. And coach Roger Fortune admitted his side had to dig deep for their victory as Two For Joy proved to be stubborn, especially at the back.

“We prepared thoroughly for this final, did our homework and came here with a plan. We knew they were going to attack us using their wings, which was where we needed to stop them. Two For Joy came hard at us but our players kept our shape well and the concentration levels were on point.

“We were able to close the supply and, once they were starved of the ball, they got frustrated and we capitalised,” said Fortune.

He also noted that the players were, before the match, aware that there was more at stake than just winning the trophy for themselves and the club.

“This win means a lot to us. We were playing for Heideveld as a whole and you can see the Heideveld people here are over the moon. We are proud of the boys’ achievement. They gave their all through the tournament and this is the reward,”said Fortune.

He said the team had a difficult run in the competition. In fact, they were at some point referred to as penalty kings as they won most of their Coke Cup matches on penalties. However, Pirates played like champions scoring 30 goals and conceding only five after beating Santos 1-0, Newfields FC 16-0, Bellville United 2-0, Benfica 3-2 on penalties after a 1-all draw, Stanfurf 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw, Florentina 5-4 after a 2-all draw, United 5-0 and Beacon Spurs 3-2, ahead of Saturday’s final. Fortune said their style was based on attacking football, which was coupled with solid defence. And, that was in full display on Saturday as his side attacked in waves, and also proving to be stingy at the back, in terms of giving away goal-scoring chances.

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