MAZENOD – Title-chasing Linare continued their rebuilding job from a mini-collapse with a hard fought 2-1 win over Swallows in Mazenod yesterday.
The win was the second on the spin for Tse Tala after a 3-1 victory over Lerotholi last week.
The consecutive successes follow on from a three-game run in which Linare lost to LCS and Bantu and drew with Maduma, a sequence which had threatened to derail their mission to capture a first league title since 1980.
The victory means Linare stay in third place in the Vodacom Premier League with 29 points, just a point behind joint leaders LCS and LDF.
But Linare were made to sweat by a plucky Swallows side in a game that was literally one of two halves.
In the first half Tse Tala, clearly intent on putting the pressure on the leaders and taking advantage of Friday’s slip-ups by Bantu and Matlama, thoroughly dominated.
They pressed early and rapidly, catching their hosts offguard and within the first three minutes Linare had grabbed the lead through former Likuena international Refiloe Potse.
When Pita Matekane finished off another Linare attack in the 25th minute, it looked as though it would be a stroll in the park for the green raiders from Leribe.
Swallows, with their nerves high and confidence low after a poor season so far, struggled to find any rhythm and for the first half were unable to seriously threaten their visitors.
Indeed they were thankful to Linare captain Moses Ramafole who could have all but sealed the game in the 41st minute but ballooned his shot sky high, with the goal at his mercy.
At halftime the clouds began to gather and they signalled a change in proceedings in the second half.
Within a minute of the restart Maswai-swai had reduced the deficit.
A simple long punt forward caused confusion in Linare’s defence and then the ball bounced through Lekhotla Pitso who smartly chipped the ball over a stranded Phoka Matete.
With memories of their giant killing act against Lioli two weekends ago flashing through their heads, Swallows players, cheered by their fans, stepped it a gear up.
They harried their hosts for possession, their tackles had more bite and, through Seenyane Nthejane, they possessed a striker who was not afraid to hassle the visitors’ defence and work on nerves that were beginning to show.
His pace was a torment and in the 55th minute he was brought down as he was bearing in on goal.
Swallows said penalty, referee Makoanyane Seeiso said free-kick from which captain Mapheelle Ngoako flashed a rasping left-footer just wide.
But with the tide fully turned in Swallows’ favour the game changed one last time when Ngoako was sent off for a second bookable offence for a poor challenge on Ramafole in the 59th minute.
With a man down, Maswai-swai, for all their application, never looked likely to recover.
Linare, after riding the storm, showed a bit more composure.
Perhaps Tse Tala were helped by the poor weather conditions towards the end of the game.
The swirling wind made it impossible for Swallows to string together any moves or pressure.
With all three points in the bag Linare could enjoy their trip back to Leribe, no matter the weather – they are still in the Vodacom Premier League title race.