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Matlama are back

Teboho Molapo

Matlama . . . . . . (1) 1

Lerotholi . . . . . . (0) 0

MASERU – Matlama edged Lerotholi by a goal to nil in a closely fought Vodacom Premier League tie at Central Prison yesterday.

The victory means Matlama are back in the title race, according to the team’s assistant coach Motlalepula Majoro.

Matlama’s hero was an unlikely one as Matsoai Shokhoe became the first goalkeeper to score this season, stepping up to slot a 30th minute penalty and give the champions all three points in their quest to win an unprecedented 10th league title.

The win moves the Glamour Boys up one place into fifth, eight points behind LCS with eight rounds of the season to go.

It is game on, according to Majoro.

“Yes, we are in the title race. If we win all our matches we will be right behind the leaders,” Majoro said bullishly afterwards.

“The score-line is not a true reflection of the game but we are satisfied with the win.”

The win was also a much-needed recovery after a 1-0 derby loss to Likhopo at the Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena on Wednesday night.

It is also a confidence booster ahead of next Sunday’s potentially season-defining match against rivals Lioli at Bambatha.

The champions will however have to improve on their goal-scoring form after contributing to an afternoon of wasted chances in front of a decent crowd.

Matlama were without first team regulars Tšoanelo Koetle and Thapelo Mokhehle who arrived late for the match and had to be omitted from the line-up.

But, still licking their wounds from that bruising loss to Likhopo, Tse Putsoa started brightly and edged possession throughout the game.

But once again, as was the case on Wednesday night, their build-up play was not matched by their ability to put the ball into the net and Jane Thabant’so and Mohau Khali were both guilty of missing simple chances in the first 25 minutes.

Lihale were also finding it difficult to find their radar score sheet with Nkuebe Mohato and Janki Tšoeu forcing smart but easy saves by Shokhoe.

Perhaps it then shouldn’t have been a surprise that it wasn’t a striker who decided the game.

In the 30th minute Phafa Tšosane’s cross caused confusion in the box and Lerotholi’s defence was adjudged to have handled the ball in a tussle with Dlomo Monapathi.

And after running the length of the field Shokoe calmly slotted past Tumelo Ntšoane.

Both sides had their chances in an end-to-end second half, but poor finishing and decision making let them down.

“Tiredness played a part as the game wore on and fatigue affects everything, decision making and technique,” Lerotholi mentor Naleli Tšilo said.

“Maybe we will have to revise the way that we train and work more on physical conditioning.”

Lihale remain two points adrift in the relegation zone having played one more game than Joy who occupy the last safe spot.

In St Monica’s Bantu’s title ambitions took a knock as they were held 1-1 by relegation threatened Mphatlalatsane.

In Matsieng Lioli’s revival under Thabile Secker continued with a much needed 3-1 win over bottom side Mabeoana.

It all sets it up quite nicely for Lesotho’s biggest club match next Sunday when Tse Putsoa and Tse Nala face off.

Then it will become clear whether or not Matlama are championship contenders.

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