MATLAMA eased to a 2-0 victory over helpless Likhopo to enhance their chances of clinching their 10th Premier League title at Setsoto Stadium yesterday.
Yesterday’s win saw Thabile Secker’s outfit cementing their place at the summit of the Econet Premier League table with 50 points with five games remaining. Second-placed LCS have 45 following the 1-0 win over Majantja with four games remaining.
Likhopo dropped one place from seventh following yesterday’s result.
Tse Putsoa made their intentions clear from the word go and it only took them two minutes to break the deadlock.
The Likhopo backline, which was in sixes and sevens on the day, was caught napping on a counter attack and the ball found Motebang Sera unmarked just outside the penalty box. The experienced Likuena striker kept his composure, pushed into the 18-yard box before unleashing a screamer close to the near post to send supporters into frenzy.
From then, it became a one-sided affair as the Red Devils failed to deal with the experienced Matlama players.
The Sea-Point outfit could have found the second goal on 21 minutes but Likhopo goalkeeper Nthebe Majoro saved Phafa Tšosane’s shot with his feet after his backline was beaten once again.
Likhopo tried to get back into the match but the midfield trio of Kefuoe Mahula, Tšosane and the midfield maestro Bushy Moletsane made it difficult for the youngsters Santi Ntšohi, Tšepang Sefali and the experienced Morapeli Lekhotso.
Likhopo’s first chance at goal came on the 25th minute after Sefali tried his luck from outside the box but his shot went over the bar.
Soon afterwards, it was Matlama who got their second goal as Jane Thabantšo freely headed home Sera’s cross from the left wing on the 33rd minute.
Matlama suffered a blow towards the end of the first half after their dribbling wizard Theletsane Makume had to be pulled out due to a hamstring injury and was replaced by Moteloa Khemisi.
Matlama could have made it three before the break but Likhopo had an upright to thank as an unmarked Sera’s shot from inside the penalty area bounced off the woodwork.
The tempo of the match slowed down in the second half as Matlama played with more caution trying not to get their backline exposed.
Likhopo suffered a body blow as their centre back Tuntu Moroahae had to be substituted due to an ankle injury on the 62nd minute and was replaced by Lisema Sehloho.
Likhopo made their second substitute introducing Majara Masupha for Katleho Lekaka on the 76th minute.
Matlama also introduced Mabuti Potloane and Teboho Lillane for John Mohai and Moletsane to beef up their midfield.
There were few clear chances created in the second half and the match ended with Matlama threatening Likhopo’s chances of finishing inside the top eight.
Secker told the Sunday Express that he was happy with the result saying it was what his side needed to challenge improve their chances of bagging the championship.
“I am happy with the result and this win means so much to the team because we it has taken us closer to the title,” Secker said.
“I think that early goal worked for us and I am happy that my boys executed our game plan and managed an early goal.”
Likhopo coach Halemakale Mahlaha, on the other hand, was uninterested in speaking about the team’s performance.
“I have no comment,” Mahlaha said before walking away.
In other matches, Linare beat Swallows 1-0 at Ratjomose Ground while Galaxy’s hopes of moving out of the relegation zone were shattered as they went down 1-0 to Liphakoe in Maputsoe.