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Our Vodacom Challenge campaign continued in Cape Town with a 2-1 victory over Orlando Pirates.

Our Vodacom Challenge campaign continued in Cape Town with a 2-1 victory over Orlando Pirates.

It was a reverse of the scoreline on our last visit in 2003 and goals from Darren Bent and Wayne Routledge made the difference, although Pirates did reduce the deficit with a three-times taken penalty five minutes from time.

Just three players who started our opening game against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday were on duty at the beginning of the encounter with Orlando Pirates - Younes Kaboul, although he only lasted a few minutes in Durban, Jermaine Jenas and Wayne Routledge were retained. Paul Stalteri and Pascal Chimbonda got their first action of the pre-season period, while the strike pairing was Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent.

Like in Durban, there was a sizzling atmosphere inside the Newlands Stadium with even the players warming up signalling an increase in the volume.

The game was lively from the off on a cool evening after a day of torrential rain and it took just 12 minutes for Bent to add to his pre-season account. Tom Huddlestone pulled the strings with a flighted throughball that found the striker in the clear and our close season recruit calmly lofted the ball over Francis Chansa in the Pirates' goal and it was quickly nestling in the back of the net.

Pirates responded by forcing Radek Cerny into his first save of the game when Josephy Kamwendo tried his luck from distance before a Routledge cross just evaded the lunge of Defoe at the far post.

On 25 minutes though it looked like an equaliser was about to arrive when Lebohang Mokoena sprinted clear with just Cerny to beat. The goalkeeper saved, but the ball ran loose and the striker was offered a second bite, this time blasting high and wide.

Just after the half hour mark, Kaboul, who was impressing with defensive solidity, showed that he has a mean shot on him too. A Huddlestone free-kick was rolled in his direction and the central defender blasted in a shot that rattled the outside of the right hand upright with Chansa beaten all ends up.

Taarabt then took aim from a little further out and forced the chest of Chansa into a vital block before Bent turned provider for Huddlestone, who could not find the target from around ten yards.

Mokoena blasted a cross into the path of Joseph Makhanya in the opening moments of the second half, causing a degree of confusion with no ultimate danger.

Captain for the night Jenas - very much the conductor in midfield - teed up Huddlestone for a shot that Chansa did well to field and then the pass-master Huddlestone picked out a sublime defence dissecting throughball to set Bent on the run again. He beat the keeper once more, but on this occasion Destin Makita dropped deep to clear off the line.

There was a sweet passage of passing and movement on 69 minutes when Taarabt and Jenas combined to pick out Routledge inside the area and the winger applied an instant touch into the path of the advanced Taarabt, who blasted goalwards, but didn't quite find the target.

It marked the end of Taarabt's night as he was replaced by Jamie O'Hara, with Jenas making way for Steed Malbranque. A further goal was probably deserved but was proving to be elusive as the clock ticked towards full-time.

Cerny produced a fine save to preserve our advantage ten minutes from time, palming out a free-kick from Ralph Matema. Bennet Chenane headed back across goal presenting Rudzani Ramudzuli with an opportunity in front of goal that was blazed over.

Cerny saved again in spectacular fashion before Malbranque strode forward and crossed low for Routledge to drill home and double the advantage.

There followed big drama at the other end when Chimbonda fouled inside the area and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Matema's spot-kick was saved by Cerny but a re-take was ordered and this time Josephy Kamwendo stepped up and Cerny saved again.

Another re-take was ordered and Kamwendo did manage to find the net with ten minutes remaining, but victory was banked and it is now on to the final in Pretoria.

Pirates: Francis Chansa, 14 Lucky Lekgwathi, 28 Destin Makita, 17 Lehlohonolo Seema, 19 Innocent Mdledle, Mlingisi Gumbi, 7 Josephy Kamwendo, 24 Joseph Makhanya (20 Ramudzuli, 62), 11 Bennet Chenene, 23 Lebohang Mokoena (Teferra, 69), 36 Ralph Matema (Walaza, 80). Subs: Senzo Meyiwa, Tonic Chabalala, Linda Mkhwanazi, Luntu Mazana, Bheki Mlambo, Jorry Merahe, Tlou Segolela, Tebogo Mashaba, Manuel Bucuane.

Spurs: Cerny, Chimbonda, Stalteri, Kaboul, Gardner, Routledge, Jenas (O'Hara, 69), Huddlestone, Taarabt (Malbranque, 69), Bent, Defoe. Subs: Robinson, Dawson, Rocha, Daniels, Maghoma, Zokora, Keane.

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