Ti­tle race still on

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE -

Moorosi Tsiane

Three first-half goals from Jane Tha­ban­tšo, Mote­bang Sera and Phafa Tšosane were enough to se­cure Mat­lama the much-needed max­i­mum points at the ex­pense of Liphakoe in yes­ter­day’s Vo­da­com Premier League match played at Ratjo­mose Ground.

Liphakoe’s con­so­la­tion goal came from Tšepo Toloane but the Sea Point out­fit were clearly the best side in the thrilling con­test.

But with Li­oli edg­ing Kick­4Life 1-0 in yes­ter­day’s other league match played at LCS Ground, it meant the ti­tle-con­tenders re­mained locked at 52 points apiece with three matches to go be­fore the sea­son comes to a close.

Mat­lama made their in­ten­tions clear from the first whis­tle, as they piled pres­sure on Liphakoe in search of an early goal.

The pres­sure fi­nally paid off as Tha­ban­tšo eas­ily slot­ted home af­ter Liphakoe goal­keeper Tšilo Tšilo had par­ried the ball into his path.

Tse Put­soa con­tin­ued dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion with Ke­fuoe Mahula boss­ing the mid­field.

Liphakoe also tried to fight their way back into the match but found it dif­fi­cult to pen­e­trate the Mat­lama de­fence.

Twenty min­utes into the match, Tšosane was brought down in the penalty area and the ref­eree duly pointed to the spot.

Sera made no mis­take as he con­verted the penalty mak­ing it two for the home side.

Liphakoe fought back and came close on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions but were let down by poor de­ci­sion-mak­ing in the fi­nal third of the pitch.

Five min­utes be­fore half time, Tšosane sealed the win for Mat­lama with a stun­ner from the cor­ner.

Im­me­di­ately af­ter the half­time break, Mat­lama in­tro­duced Rele­bo­hile Mabone for Ke­fuoe Mahula while five min­utes later, Liphakoe’s Lereko Mat­sipa made way for Tšepang Makapa.

Mat­lama then made a dou­ble sub­sti­tu­tion of Tankiso Makhutla for Tumelo Maine while Khotso Molulela came off for Retha­bile Mokokoane.

Liphakoe also in­tro­duced Neo Skosana for Tlotliso Tuma­hole in the 63rd minute.

The change worked for Liphakoe as they be­gan to dom­i­nate the game, with Tšoarelo Mokoaleli com­ing close in the 71st minute.

Mat­lama were also lucky not to be pun­ished af­ter goal­keeper Makhetha Thakeli and John Mo­hai had a mix-up but Makapa missed an empty net 10 min­utes be­fore time.

Liphakoe striker Skosana was then fouled just out­side the penalty area and Toloane made no mis­take to find the con­so­la­tion goal for the Quthing-based out­fit in the 88th minute. In a post-match in­ter­view, Mat­lama coach Moses Maliehe said he was happy for the points as they are get­ting closer to the ti­tle.

“We played well in the first half and man­aged to kill the game. I am happy for the three points be­cause bit by bit, we are get­ting to the league ti­tle,” Maliehe said.

“But we have to be cau­tious and take ev­ery match as it comes and not let the pres­sure get to us. Our next match is against Li­oli so we need to beat them to get closer to the cham­pi­onship.”

Liphakoe as­sis­tant coach Mote­bang Makhetha said he was aware of the dan­ger his side faces.

“We are in a bad po­si­tion and aware of the dan­ger we face be­cause the more we lose, the more we get deeper into the rel­e­ga­tion zone.

“Our play­ers were re-ac­tive in­stead of be­ing pro-ac­tive and only started to play in the sec­ond half. I think the re­sult could have been dif­fer­ent if they started play­ing that way from word go,” Makhetha said.

In the other match played yes­ter­day, Rovers held LCS to a goal­less draw in Roma.

MaT­laMa mid­fielder Ke­fuoe Mahula (front) shields the ball from Liphakoe winger Rele­bo­hile Moloinyane in a premier league match played yes­ter­day at Ratjo­mose Ground.

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