A GOAL apiece from Bafokeng Mosala and Tšepo Lekhooana gave Lioli a 2-nil victory over Likhopo yesterday which catapulted them to the top of the Econet Premier League standings.
Tse Nala went into yesterday at Ratjomose Ground tied on 19 points with champions Bantu but they are now three points clear after the latter succumbed to a 1-nil loss to Kick4Life at Setsoto Stadium.
The match started on a high tempo in the scorching sun as both teams went all out in search of an early goal.
Lioli could have opened the scoring on eight minutes but Mosala’s header near post, the striker however missed the target.
Likhopo came up with moves of their own but they struggled to make a serious impact in the last third of the pitch.
It did not take long before Lioli broke the deadlock as Mosala headed home from Tšoanelo Koetle’s corner kick on the 26 minute.
The goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of the youthful Likhopo side while Lioli grew in confidence.
The Red Army were almost gifted an equaliser on 54 minutes when goalkeeper Liteboho Mokhehle miscalculated Nyeoe Rakhobo’s cross into the Lioli penalty area.
The ball fell to an unmarked Mohlalefi Thamae whose shot was cleared off the line by Kopano Tseka.
Two minutes later, Likhopo were punished by Lekhooana’s header off a corner which caught their defence napping after goalkeeper Fusi Ranone failed to clear Koetle’s set play.
Lioli made their first change in the 65th minute with Thabiso Mohapi coming in for Mosala.
The Mazenod-born midfielder could have extended the lead with his first touch as he received a ball unmarked outside the penalty area but his cracker was punched out for a corner by Ranone.
Lioli continued to dominate possession and they brought in Obakeng Modirwa for Bushy Moletsane in the 71st minute while Likhopo introduced Rapelang Luka and Tšepang Mafatle for Rakhoboso and Mpho Qobose respectively.
Four minutes later, Mokhehle preserved Lioli’s lead when he saved Letlotlo Nthabane’s shot.
Likhopo made the final change bringing in Lehlohonolo Khoarane for Lebajoa Moloroane on 79 minutes.
Four minutes from time, Lioli made their final change with Tankiso Tabi coming in for Lekhooana.
In post-match interview, Lioli coach Motebang Makhetha could not hide his happiness that his charges won without conceding.
“I am happy with our performance because we also kept a clean sheet,” Makhetha said.
“We are not focusing on Bantu but we are taking it a game at a time and looking to get maximum points in every match we play.
“They thought we would crowd the midfield but we came with a different game plan playing with two strikers. That gave our midfielders too much space and that helped us to control the game,” he said.
Likhopo coach, Halemakale Mahlaha, who only left Lioli last month, said all was not lost for his charges.
“They are trying and I see some positives ever since I started working with them. We conceded from set plays and we need to go back to the drawing board to regroup,” Mahlaha said.
In the first match of the double header at Ratjomose LDF came from a goal down to beat Majantja 3-1.