Township Rollers won the first classic Gaborone derby of the decade with a 3-1 win over Notwane in a BTC Premiership encounter played at the National Stadium on Sunday.
The teams met under the scorching Gaborone sun with different ambitions. Popa was intent on closing the gap on log leaders while Notwane wanted to move out of the relegation zone. It was the Blues who had chances early on but Tumisang Orebonye and Lemponye Tshireletso were denied by the goal keeper. Notwane broke the deadlock against the run of play in the 10th minute. Keiponye Mphoyamodimo scored from the free-kick just on the edge of the box leaving the keeper hapless. The game started to simmer after the goal. Notwane’s goalkeeper, Thomas Manyelela had to deal with two chances from Edwin Moalosi and Kago Monyake, which he both parried out for corners. Onkarabile Ratanang levelled the scores with a free kick from the edge of the box in the 23rd minute. Three minutes to the break Tshireletso headed wide Ratanang’s corner kick. A minute later, at the other end, Thabiso Boti had a one-on-one with the keeper but shot wide as the teams went in to the break level at 1-1.
Popa controlled the proceedings in the early stages of the second half. Orebonye, from a tight angle saw his shot miss the target before Edwin Moalosi shot straight in to the keeper’s hands in the 50th minute. The game’s tempo dipped mid-through the second half as Toronto sat back and looked to catch Rollers on the counter attack. Ratanang saw his free kick attempt saved by the wall in the 70th minute. Five minutes later, Tshireletso’s deflected shot did not trouble Manyelela. Orebonye gave Popa the lead in the 80th minute, with a beautiful curler beating the keeper to the top corner. Just four minutes later, substitute Tlhalefo Molebatsi hit one of the sweetest strikes to beat the keeper to the top corner to make it 3-1 for Rollers against his former side. Popa’s win reduces the deficit on log leaders Orapa United to three points.
Rollers’ interim coach, Zacharia Muzadzi was impressed with the win but was coy on the title chase. “I do not mind what is happening in the next house. I only try to work with what is in my house. We are used to being at the top that’s where we want to be. I am happy with the win we played well. We wanted to play a very pressing play and I think it worked,” he said. His counterpart Oupa Kowa of Notwane said despite the defeat he is confidnet of avoiding the relegation. “We played well, I think we had a better second half than Rollers. We do not want to be in this position, nobody in this club want to be here. But we are confident that we will avoid relegation,” he said.
Rollers: Keeagile Kgosipula, Kamogelo Matsabu, Simisani Mathumo, Arnold Mampori, Onkarabile Ratanang, Mothusi Cooper, Kago Monyake (Mooketsi Gareonne), Lemponye Tshireletso (Galabywe Moyana), Motsholetsi Sikele (Tlhalefo Molebatsi), Tumisang Orebonye, Edwin Moalosi
Notwane: Thomas Manyelela, Kereng Mpetang, Metlha Buru (Thato Gabotlhokwe), Katlego Koobake, Keiponye Mphoyamodimo, Thato Moganana, Goitseone Bokhutlo (Langa Mabuli), Kudzani Sibanda (Amos Godirwang), Thabiso Boti, Sthembile Mbuqe, Kudzanani Machadzani
Caution: Mampori, Monyake, Mpetang
Rollers 3 (Ratanang 23rd, Orebonye 80th, Molebatsi 86th)
Notwane 1 (Mphoyamodimo 10th)