Gaborone United (GU) blew the beMOBILE Premiership title race wide open with a 1 ÔÇô 0 win over city rivals Township Rollers over the weekend.
Two days after Mochudi Centre Chiefs narrowed Rollers’ lead at the top of the log standings to a mere two points by beating fellow title rivals Orapa United, GU pulled an impressive win over the log leaders to keep things tight and interesting at the top of the log.
A solitary strike by Thato Ogopotse in the opening minute of the game was enough to see GU claiming the city’s bragging rights and denying Rollers the three points they needed to keep away from the clutches of Chiefs, who are on their tail coats. In what was a storming start to an absorbing game, it was GU who started on a high, dominating Rollers and not giving them room to maneuver.
The script was written earlier on in the game as Obonwe Maome, who went on to have a blinder of a game, took Rollers leftback Otlantshekela Mooketsi to the cleaners, resulting with the latter fouling him a few yards outside the Rollers box. Maome dusted himself up and took the set piece, which somehow trickled past the wall towards Rollers goal minder Kabelo Dambe. The Rollers keeper parried the ball onto the Ogopotse’ path, and he gleefully slotted his team ahead.
Rollers then threatened on the 5th minute when Segolame Boy came one on one with GU keeper Michael Pepukani, only to go down after dribbling past Pepukani and wasting the chance. Five minutes later, it was GU who nearly increased their tally after a nice exchange between Benson Shilongo and Karabo Phiri saw the latter release Botshelo Lerato, only for the player to shoot straight into the hands of Dambe.
Despite dominating the entire first half and restricting Rollers, GU could not find an insurance goal as both teams went to recess with GU one goal ahead. While Rollers came back from recess an improved side, it was however GU who created the first meaningful chance of the half in the 64th minute as Shilongo, who had his back to the goalposts, was allowed to turn and unleash a shot at Dambe. The Rollers goalkeeper did well to punch the shot out for a corner, which came to nothing. At the other end, Mooketsi tried to catch out Pepukani with a dipping ball on the 78th minute, but the keeper backpedaled to fist the ball out. Shilongo then missed a glorious chance to get the game beyond Rollers in the 89th minute, only for his intended lob over Dambe to come to naught. Dambe then did well with a triple save of his own in referee’s added time, twice denying Kabelo Seakanyeng before stopping Phiri’s attempt as GU saw off the game and claimed all three points. Commenting on the game, Rollers’ gaffer Mark Harrison surmised that his players never turned up for the game.
“The first half was shambles. We lacked desire, commitment, and hunger to win. We spoke about it at half time and we showed a little bit of desire and a little bit competitiveness. At the same time, we still did not play with enough quality. We did not hurt them enough or create anything worthwhile and never really tested the goalkeeper,” the Rollers coach opined.
He described the first half performance as ‘the worst’ he has seen of his team all season. “They dominated us in the first half, they beat us up,” Harrison explained. For his part, GU coach expressed happiness at his team’s performance, saying they were deserved winners. “I won’t take anything from Rollers. They are a good side, but I think a good team won today, that’s it,” the GU gaffer said.
Rollers: Dambe, Mooketsi, Simisani Mathumo, Mogogi Gabonamong, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Lawrence Majawa, Maano Ditshupo, Boy, Galagbwe Moyana, Sekhana Koko, Jerome Ramatlhakwana
GU: Pepukani, Godwin Osei Bonsu, Thabiso Khunwane, Maome, Gosegonna Molapisi, Ogopotse, Lerato, Shilongo, Phiri, Alphonse Modisaotsile, Tshepo Maikano