Tonwship Rollers took a giant leap towards a place in the Mascom Top 8 final, after an entertaining 3-1 win over BDF XI in the first leg of the semi-final played at the Royal Aria Stadium on Saturday.
The two teams will meet in the second leg in a fortnight, to determine who goes through to the final.
The first quarter hour showed glimpses of what historically has been a tight affair. Neither side had clear chances at goal, but the hosts had a positive start. The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute when Tumisang Orebonye converted a penalty kick following a foul on the striker by goalkeeper, Tumisang Mashakola.
A few minutes later, Popa came close but Orebonye shot straight into the keeper’s hands. In the 30th minute, Matebele had their first sight at goal but saw Keeagile Kobe’s free kick go over the bar.
Moments later, Rollers’ Lemponye Tshireletso was at the end of a swift counter-attack, but had his shot saved by Mashakola. With Popa pressing hard, the visitors had their chances from set pieces but could not find the target. Edwin Moalosi doubled Rollers’ lead on the stroke of half time with a deflected shot. The host took a 2-0 lead going to the break.
Two minutes into the second-half, Kabelo Dambe was called into action to deny Okgopotse Tsimako at the near post as BDF XI looked a rejuvenated side. In the 57th minute, Moalosi put in a teasing cross for Orebonye, but the striker’s headed attempt was saved by the keeper. Popa came close again in the 66th minute when Mothusi Cooper beat his marker inside, but shot over from inside the penalty area.
Ghanaian striker, Francis Afiriyie made his Rollers debut a minute later, replacing Orebonye. Popa looked home and dry with 15
In the 82nd minute, substitute Motsholetsi Sikele benefited from the soldiers’ porous defending to tap in from close range to make it 3-0. Tackles flew in, in the dying minutes of the game, but referee Joshua Bondo kept his cards in the pocket.
Against his former side, Remington Masuku got the consolation away goal for BDF XI with two minutes to time.
“It is definitely a score-line we can overturn. Anything is possible, we just have to believe. Today, I think we were good.
We denied Rollers that space behind our defenders. We just need to be better and try to overturn the score-line in the second leg,” BDF XI coach, Letang ‘Rasta’ Kgengwenyane said after the match. Rollers’ Frank Nuttall was an impressed man but warned the job is only half done.
“I must give it to my players. They give it all for the club and jersey. They were very focused and gave it a 100% today. After last week’s win, a lot words were spoken but we did not get carried away and remained focused today,” he said.
Rollers: Dambe, Kamogelo Matsabu, Arnold Mampori, Ofentse Nato, Onkarabile Ratanang, Ivan Mbowa, Cooper, Tshireletso, Tlhalefo Molebatsi (Galabye Moyana), Orebonye (Afiriyie),Moalosi (Sikele)
BDF XI: Tumiso Mashakola, Goitseone Kusane, Tsimako (Gobe Maphane), Thabiso Khunwane, Onkabetse Seforo, Moagi Mokomeng, Kobe, Godiraone Modingwane, Masuku, Sphiwe Matlala (Oabile Taunyane), Thato Kananyo (Godfrey Tauyatsalwa)
Cautions: Mashakola, Afiriyie.
Rollers 3 (Orebonye 19th pen, Moalosi 45+2, Sikele 82nd)
BDF 1 (Masuku 88th)