MAHALAPYE: Substitute Mogakolodi Balatotswe’s solitary strike was enough to dent title credentials of chasers Motlakase Power Dynamos and hand the Debswana First Division North log leaders, BR Highlanders a firm hand on the league title.
The closely contested encounter was played under a scorching Saturday afternoon heat at the Railways Ground. Attendance suited the magnitude of the match. Both teams approached the game cautiously.
The opening half was less industrious. The hosts played a long ball game and Motlakase tried to play from deep in their half but Highlanders did well to cut their tracks before they could reach the danger zones.
Highlanders enjoyed a number of set pieces in the opening half. They were posted into good areas inside the Motlakase box, but the attackers lacked the hunger to challenge the goalkeeper who had a field day.
In the only highlight of the first half, Motlakase’s marksman Lapologang Motlogi saw his well-connected 35 yards volley on the 38th minute finger tipped over the crossbar for a corner.
From the dugout, the hosts pressed high up and forced Motlakase into the back foot for a good 10 minutes. They earned four corners in the opening five minutes but failed to profit. Motlakase made a double change bringing in Samuel Makgoro and Odirile Gabaleswe to get themselves back onto the game.
Makgoro breathed life in the midfield and Chouka got their groove back. Moments after the hour mark, Makgoro and Kemiso Nswazi produced a scintillating move on the left into the box, and Nswazi rolled a cross that beat the advancing goalkeeper and defenders retreated in time to clear in front of the open post for a corner.
Against the run of play, 10 minutes after his introduction Balatotse found himself at the end of a counter attack, he calmly eliminated one defender, side stepped the other and beat the goalkeeper flatfooted on the bottom left from 20 yards.
Following the goal, the home side had enough; they put their man behind the ball, closed all the gaps and saw the game to bed.
Highlander’s assistant coach, Isaac Masobe said the road is still long and rocky but they are delighted with the three points. “All the teams we are facing a breathing fire, but we will continue to grind the results, whatever we get at this point is very important. Three points is motivating,” he said excitedly. Motlakase’s Pule Mogotsi was a worried man.
“Our decision making upfront was disappointing, we failed to take advantage of our chances but we still have 27 points to play for, we need some work on our finishing.”
Highlanders: Molathegi Lapologang, Mompati Oabile, Thabang Mooketsi, Keabetswe Obenetse, Onkarabile Tsheko, Reuben Disho (Temo Keorileng), Ronald Gabaatholwe, Boikobo Osupile, Emmanuel Thakadu ( Balatotswe), Tillie Sethako, Tumo Keiketile (Malokwane)
Motlakase: Kagiso Moganetsi, Archie Rakgole (Odirile Gabaleswe), Moemedi Gokatweng, Tshephang Boithatelo, Kemiso Nswazi, Thabo Wetshoemang, Kutlo Sabofelo (Makgoro), Omphemetse Bolofete, Thapelo Chabalala, Lapologang Motlogi (Gaothoboge Molemisi), Itumeleng Mabuaaeme
Cautions: Keorileng, Tsheko, Bolofete, Wetshoemang, Nswazi