Title race still on
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.