Matlama . . . . (1) 2
Linare . . . . . . (1) 1
MASERU — Linare’s title hopes all but ended yesterday after a 2-1 defeat by rivals Matlama at the Central Prison.
A missed penalty caused the mess for Linare as outgoing league champions Tse Putsoa played spoilers to their traditional foes’ dreams.
With this result Linare can now only reach 49 points and it is unlikely Tse Tala will manage to overhaul LDF who now lead the Vodacom Premier League with 45 points after their thumping 4-1 win over Mabeoana yesterday.
The soldiers have five games to play and can still collect 60 points by the time Lesotho’s top-flight league concludes at the end of this month.
Two goals from Makoanyane XI starlet Litšepe Marabe were enough to seal the deal for Tse Putsoa yesterday and send a dagger through Leribe hearts.
The win was Matlama’s second in a row under their re-jigged coaching staff headed by goalkeeper Matsoai Shokhoe.
Shokhoe is still a registered keeper and could have been called upon when Liteboho Mokhesi was injured in the heat of the second half, but Mokhesi and Tse Putsoa held on for a crushing win.
For Linare it was a devastating blow and their assistant coach Makhabane Tlebere admitted as much after the game.
“We are out of the contest now,” he said.
“We came into the final games knowing we needed to win to have a chance and we haven’t done that.
“We were over-confident Matlama haven’t been playing well and that was in our heads. It’s a sickness that is still there in our team. We didn’t show fighting spirit, we were too casual,” Tlebere said on behalf of a Linare side that has now claimed only one point from a possible nine in their last three games.
Linare, coming off a loss and a draw against Bantu and LCS, had started like a house on fire.
Tente Molapo missed a glorious chance in the second minute and by the seventh minute Linare had taken the lead after Mabuti Potloane’s energy and persistence resulted in a handball and a penalty.
After Refiloe Potse’s costly last minute miss against LCS last week, up stepped goalkeeper Phoka Matete to beat his opposite number Mokhesi.
But Tse Tala didn’t put their foot on the pedal. Instead they allowed a Matlama side still trying to find its feet to find footing in the game.
In the 14th minute Dlomo Monapathi’s shot was parried by Matete and an alert Marabe drew a foul from Lintša Rantšeng and a penalty. Marabe stepped up to coolly send Matete the wrong way and equalise.
Seven minutes later Marabe flashed a shot wide before Monapathi stung Matete’s hands with a thunderbolt free-kick in the 28th minute.
But the biggest and costliest miss of the day came in the 37th minute. After left-back Kopano Motaung’s forward raid was only stopped by a rash tackle by Frank Ntšohi, up stepped Matete again but this time he put his penalty attempt wide.
That was possibly the moment in which the league was lost, Linare’s disorganisation and the lack of specialist scorer coming back to haunt them again.
In the second half Tse Tala, desperate to stay in the hunt for a first championship in 31 years, pressed forward still with Tšiu Moorosi and Potloane failing to make the most of crosses from the right.
And for their wastefulness, Linare were punished with the ultimate price when the classy Marabe scored in the 65th minute. The goal was a quality one, not in keeping with the general fare on a well-kept Central Prison pitch.
Monapathi’s precise through pass found Marabe’s clever run behind Linare’s defence and the winger calmly lobbed the on-rushing Matete to make it 2-1.
That is how it stayed as Linare, missing the creativity and guile in midfield of the injured Moses Ramafole struggled to create and generate the required pressure on Matlama’s goals.
In fact it was Matlama who had the best chance but substitute Motlalepula Chabeli blasted high from a Thapelo Mokhehle cross.
It was a bitter end to what has been a gallant bid for the title by Linare at the hands of Matlama.
The loss, coupled with LDF’s win and Bantu’s 3-0 win over Swallows, means Linare are now fourth on the Vodacom Premier League table.
“When there is pressure there are mistakes. That’s what has happened with us. Our aim now is to consolidate our position in the top four,” was Tlebere’s closing remarks.