REIGNING Econet Premier League (EPL) champions Matlama yesterday thumped Likhopo 1-4 away at LCS Ground.
Despite the emphatic win, the champions remain five points behind leaders Bantu.
The win was however, a boost for the side having drawn one-all with Bantu before the international break.
Matlama drew first blood in the 2nd minute after Khonyane Mokoena converted a Makume Theletsane cross.
Likhopo immediately responded and took the game to their visitors and it almost paid off. However, Thabiso Mari’s close-range attempt was easily saved by Matlama’s goalkeeper Monaheng Ramalefane.
Morena Mohlominyana missed a one-on-one chance after Ramalefane saved with his knees following a neat exchange in the 33rd minute.
Likhopo clamoured for a penalty in the 35th minute after Nkesi Rankhasa and Stephen Essono brought down Mari in the box but referee Thabo Nkhahle waved away.
A few minutes before the interval, Theletsane again provided a for Mokoena who easily tapped for the second goal.
In the second half, Matlama dominated the first 20 minutes and made it difficult for Likhopo to create any more chances.
Mohlominyane pulled one back from a free kick a few feet outside the box placing the ball in the bottom left corner in the 57th minute. The goal stimulated Likhopo but the side failed capitalise.
It was Matlama who extended the lead in the 76th minute after captain Tšosane whose shot found the bottom right corner.
A few minutes before the final whistle, substitute Ngaka Kobo sent Matlama fans into a frenzy again.
The win left Matlama in second with 17 points from eight games. Leaders Bantu have 22 points after their 0-1 win against the league Lijabatho in Morija yesterday. Likhopo remained in eighth with 10 points.
Matlama head coach Charles Manda said he just told his charges to convert their chances because he anticipated a tough game.
“I just told my boys to convert the chances they created,” Manda said.
“We are coming from a break and it affected our momentum but my boys showed great character and we scored four goals to take home three points.”
He said they are taking one game at a time.
“We are six games before the end of the first round; this is a marathon and we take one game at a time. I cannot say much. We are not yet where I want the team be but we will keep pushing,” he added.
Likhopo coach Halemakale Mahlaha also cited that the break affected their momentum.
“I am playing with young boys; we make mistakes but I cannot say Matlama dominated. However, we will go back and rectify the mistakes we made.
“We knew Matlama have experienced players but our plan was to depend on our pace because we have young energetic players,” Mahlaha said.
In other league games yesterday Linare drew 1-1 with Likhopo in Maputsoe while Lioli edged LMPS 1-2 at PTC.