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Matlama edge Lioli in thriller

Moorosi Tsiane
LCS Grounds


matlamaMatlama yesterday kept their Premier League title-chase alive with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Lioli at the LCS Grounds.

Left-back Nkesi Rankhasa netted from the spot in the second half to send Matlama supporters into ecstasy, and ensure the Sea Point outfit remain part of the title-race alongside Lioli and pace-setters Bantu.

Yesterday’s win saw Tse Putsoa cementing their third-position in the 14–team league with 35 points—the same points as Lioli who are only in second position because of a better goal tally.
Meanwhile, in yesterday’s match played before a vociferous crowd, Lioli midfielder Teboho Lekhooa was the first to get a clear scoring chance in the fifth-minute but he was brilliantly denied by Matlama goalkeeper Essaih Mosala in a one-on-one encounter.

The home side however, nearly found the opener on the half-hour mark with a long-range strike from midfielder Pali Tšalong, which was parried for a corner by goalkeeper Liteboho Mokhehle.
In the second half, Matlama came back the better side and finally broke the deadlock in the 65th minute through Rankhasa who calmly rolled the ball into the net. This was after the lively Tšalong was fouled inside the penalty area, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.

But Lioli thought they had found the equaliser in the 77th minute with a header from second-half substitute Lekhanya Lekhanya. But the ‘goal’ was disallowed for offside—a decision which angered Lioli supporters who started throwing missiles onto the pitch.

In a post-match interview, Matlama coach, Mofihli Makoele said he was happy with the win although he was not satisfied with how his charges played.
“We did not play according to our game-plan, but all in all, we collected the maximum points we needed and I am happy,” Makoele said.

Makoele added the league championship is still wide open and it would be up to his side to beat Bantu next weekend to increase their chances of claiming the title.

On the other hand, Lioli coach, Mosholu Mokhothu was disappointed with the result but insisted the race for league honours was still open and that his players simply have to keep focused and take each game as it comes.

“We played well but did not create a lot of chances and failed to convert but the league race is still open. We only have to focus on our next fixture and take it one game at a time,” Mokhothu said.

In other Premier League matches played yesterday, Linare beat Likhopo 2-0 at LCS Ground, while Nyenye Rovers registered a 2-1 victory over Joy. The Mpharane Celtics match against Melele was called off due to crowd trouble with Celtics leading 1-0.

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