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Matlama close in on LCS

Moorosi Tsiane

MATLAMA kept their 10th Premier League title hopes alive when they edged LCS 2-1 in a top of the table clash at Setsoto Stadium yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday’s win saw Matlama closing the gap between them and pacesetters LCS to just one point. Matlama however, still have a game in hand.

Rethabile Mokokoane and Jane Thabantšo were on target for Matlama while the LCS goal came from Mojalefa Ramabusa.

Both sides looked cautious in the opening stages of the match as they guarded against conceding an early goal.

But LCS were the first to throw the first punch as Makara Ntaitsane came close after a smooth combination play with Mosiuoa Boseeka six minutes into the match. However, Ntaitsane wasted the chance as he taped the ball straight to goalkeeper Monaheng Ramalefane from inside the six-yard box.

Matlama also searched for a goal and their striker Motebang Sera came close on the 22nd minute but he was unfortunate to see his far placed header from Lebajoa Mosehlenyane’s corner narrowly missing the target.

Mokokoane broke the deadlock on the half hour mark with a cleverly taken set piece inside the penalty arc after Mosehlenyane was fouled by Poloko Mohale and Boseeka. Masheshena, as LCS is affectionately known, came close to leveling the matters six minutes later but were let down by the poor finishing from striker Thapelo Tale who failed to beat the goalkeeper.

The stocky striker received a defense splitting pass from Ntaitsane but he shot straight to Ramalefane who, despite having already gone down, saved the ball for a corner.

It was from that corner where towering LCS defender Mojalefa Ramabusa headed home to level the matters for the visiting side as the match went to the half break.

Two minutes after break, LCS came close to taking the lead but Ntaitsane’s strike was cleared over the line by Nketsi Rankhasa.

Sera was denied by the upright following his clever move which caught the LCS backline napping on the 51st minute.

Ntaitsane could have given LCS the lead on the 59th minute when Ramalefane parried Lehlohonolo Lenka’s cross onto his feet but the former shot over the cross bar.

Matlama made their first substitute on the 61st minute introducing Makume Theletsane for Lebajoa Mosehlenyane who was having a bad game.

Four minutes later LCS also made their first substitute pulling out Ntaitsane for Thetso Phosholi.

Reitumetsi Linkoane was introduced for Bushy Moletsane in the 82nd minute as Matlama kept pushing for the winning goal.

LCS also made their second substitute with Thabo Seakhoa coming in for Lenka on 87 minutes.

The correctional service side were just one minute away from sharing the spoils with Matlama and maintain the four points lead but Thabantšo had other plans. The Likuena midfielder freely connected with Linkoane’s pinpointed set piece to head home and shatter LCS supporters’ hearts.

Matlama coach Thabile Secker could hold back his tears as he was full of praises for his charges.

“I am happy and satisfied, I really don’t have much to say,” Secker said.

“It was a game which could have gone either way but I am happy that we are going home with maximum points. I was impressed by some of my players who have really improved among them Mokokoane who has matured immensely.”

Secker said the win will go a long way for his side as it has firmed their case in the race for the title.

“This win has enhanced our chances for the title. Even more, we still have a game in hand,” he said.

On the other hand, LCS coach Mpitsa Marai said the real race for the title has now begun.

“It was a match that we could have still won but we failed to convert the chances that we created especially in the first half. However, what I can say is that the real race for honours has started.

“We just need to focus on our coming matches and ensure that we win. In the match we were mostly affected by the absence of some of our key players due to injuries while some even played with injuries. We missed Sepiriti Malefane today and you could see Setho Moshoeshoe was still not at his best because he was also returning from injury,” Marai said.

Elsewhere, Kick4Life drew 1-1 with Sefotha-fotha at LCS Ground while Liphakoe edged Linare 2-1 at Maputsoe DIFA Ground.

LMPS beat Likhopo 2-0 at Ratjomose Ground.

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