AN early first half goal by Peter Matekane handed Linare a 1-0 win over bottom of the league, Qoaling Highlanders, in the first match of a double header held at Setsoto Stadium yesterday.
Despite the win over the premiership strugglers Highlanders, it was evident from the opening minutes of the game that Linare were missing the services of their inspirational former skipper, Mabuti Potloane, who is on the verge of completing a move to Matlama.
Potloane has been the heartbeat of Tse Tala in recent years, having led the side to a third place finish last season and also reaching the final of the LNIG Top 8.
His exploits with Linare last season saw him clinching the Vodacom Premier League Player of the Year gong.
However, despite Potloane’s absence, the early lead helped settle the nerves as Linare were also without their suspended coach, Freese Ntene, who had to watch the match from the stands.
In the first half, Tse Tala were guilty of squandering a number of chances with Lebajoa Mosehlenyane being the main culprit.
Highlanders finished the first stanza the stronger of the two teams with Bohlale Sentšo setting the pace in midfield.
The second half, however, was more balanced with both sides creating a number of goal scoring chances, although none of them could find the back of the net.
Linare’s attacks mostly emanated from the flanks with the runs of Mosehlenyane and Napo Sehloho causing Highlanders defenders headaches.
The tide turned towards the end of the match with Highlanders frantically looking for the equaliser. Fortuitously for Linare, goal minder, Thejane Mahlakale, who was given the nod ahead of first choice keeper Dyke Tšiu, ensured they held on to their solitary lead.
Mahlakale made a number of great saves to hand his team the three points while Highlanders remained at the bottom of the table.
The Qoaling-based team has won only once this season, having lost on seven occasions in the first round.
Speaking to the Sunday Express after the game, Ntene admitted it was not their best performance.
“We did not play that well, but I will take the three points as they will improve our position in the league table,” Ntene said.
“We still have a long way to go and need to work hard.”
In other league matches played today, Matlama registered a 2-1 win over Mphatlatsane, while league leaders, Lioli, were held to a goalless draw in Butha-Buthe by Sundawana.
Bantu completed the double header at Setsoto Stadium with a 2-0 win over Kick4Life with goals from Tlali Maile and Litšepe Marabe.