Stellenbosch FC suffered a last-gasp defeat to Orlando Pirates in the first leg of their MTN8 semi-final on Sunday afternoon.
Having recorded a 1-0 victory over Orlando Pirates in the opening league match of the season last month, Stellenbosch headed into Sunday’s cup encounter against the Buccaneers with a sense of optimism and belief in recording a positive result.
As early as the fifth minute, Stellies signaled their attacking intent when they fashioned a potential goalscoring opportunity through the boot of striker Iqraam Rayners, who fired narrowly wide following a swift transition in play.
The two sides then traded a couple of half-chances each in the opening half an hour of the encounter before the hosts were dealt a major setback, with centre-back Thabo Moloisane shown a red card for an apparent studs-up challenge on Patrick Maswanganyi.
Moloisane’s dismissal saw Pirates take control of the attacking impetus but it was at the other end where the scorers would ultimately be tested, as Ismaël Touré rose highest to head Stellenbosch into the lead from a corner on the stroke of half-time.
Head coach Steve Barker rung the changes at half-time as Rayners and Andre De Jong made way for Athenkosi Mcaba and Genino Palace, respectively.
The defensive tweak was ultimately not enough to keep the Bucs at bay as former Stellies forward Zakhele Lepasa levelled matters in the 66th minute, before Deon Hotto nodded home the winner in the fourth minute of additional time.
The final whistle sounded soon after, leaving Stellenbosch with work to do when the two sides meet in the second leg at Orlando Stadium on the 24th of September.
Stellenbosch FC XI: Stephens, Van Rooyen, Basadien, Moloisane (red card 32′), Touré, Mthethwa, Adams (Oura 78’), Nduli (Mgaga 78’), De Jong (Palace 46’), Sibande (Boji 57′), Rayners (Mcaba 46′)