Extension Gunners is on the roll.
The team netted its fourth victory on the trot on Independence Day as they cut short Gaborone United (GU)’s unbeaten run on the league via a 2 ÔÇô 1 victory.
The win sees ‘Mapantsula’, as Gunners is known to its legion of fans, continue its ‘bump and jive’ towards the summit of the league.
Coming into the game against GU, Daniel ‘Chico Dance’ Nare’s Gunners were under pressure not to lose the game in the first match to be held in their own new backyard, the Lobatse Stadium.
However, it was GU who came first off the blocks. The Reds, as GU is known, made their intentions clear as soon as the first whistle blew when they dispossessed Gunners and charged forward, forcing the Gunners defence to commit a foul just a couple of meters from their 18 yard box. The Gunners defence was, however, able to defend the resultant free kick, but gave away a corner kick in the process.
From the corner kick, Tshepo Molefe sent in a perfect ball into the box which was nearly converted by GU, only for the ever present Gunners’ defence to kick it off the goal line with Gunners goalkeeper Raphael Nthwane well beaten. This was followed by yet another free kick for GU, only for Molefe to send it over the crossbar.
GU’s game was however turned on its head in the sixth minute with an injury to their influential midfielder, Ofentse Nato.
He was later substituted for Goitseone Selefa in the 13th minute. While GU was wasteful in front of goals as well as in their many set pieces, Gunners, who mostly relied on team work, were on the other hand very efficient and used the least chances they got.
With their captain Ofentse Mmipi running the show from the centre, Gunners took the lead as early as the 10th minute through young striking sensation, Henrick Moyo, after neat combination involving Mmipi. Moyo’s goal made him the first player to score a goal in the newly built stadium. From then on, it was an end to end affair between the two giants, with GU creating the bulk of chances, only to be wasted by their forwards, with Sageby Sandaka, Ronald Chikomo, Mandla Mgadla and midfielder Molwane being the main culprits.
GU relentlessly attacked Gunners in referee’s additional time but they could not find a way past the resolute Gunners defence, which held on till the referee blew his whistle for recess.
Coming from recess, The Reds looked lively and created chance after chance but failed to convert.
GU were given a chance to level scores early in the second stanza when they were awarded a set piece inside the 18 yards after Nthwane’s mistake but GU blew the chance. With GU on attack, Gunners relied on counter attack and this nearly paid off when a through ball let Kgololo Leteane through, only for him to shoot timidly into the hands of GU goalkeeper, Kgosietsile Senjoba.
GU’s lack of efficiency was dully punished on the 77th minute when Mmipi sent in a rasping shot past Senjoba into the net. The goal was a brilliant display of football, starting with a delightful back heel from Mmipi to Finkie Mothibi and involving a couple of players before it was laid back on the path of Mmipi who finished with aplomb.
GU’s consolation goal came in the 3rd minute of referee’s added time, courtesy of Selefa’s thunderbolt from outside the 18 yard box. Selefa lurched on to a back pass from Mpho Mabogo, who had come on as a substitute for Molefe in the 76th minute and hit a fierce shot that left Nthwane, in Gunners’ post, rooted to the spot.
The goal, however, came a little too late to resuscitate GU as they went on to lose the game.
Gunners’ next game will be against struggling Notwane in Lobatse.