Sunday, May 28, 2023

‘Ostriches’ dump Gunners out of Mascom Top 8 Semis

Orapa United shirked away their ‘bad travelers’ tag to beat Extension Gunners 3 – 1 and dump them off the Mascom Top 8 tournament.  A goal in each half of extra time by Ronald Chikomo and Lemogang Maswena respectively, were enough for the Orapa outfit to see off ‘Mapantsola’ after both teams had played to a 1 all stalemate in regulation time. The result means Orapa, who are making their debut in the lucrative cup, booked themselves a semifinal spot with a 4 – 2 aggregate win as both sides played to another 1 all stalemate in the first leg played at Itekeng Stadium a fortnight ago.
Against Gunners on Friday night, Madinda Ndlovu’s charges took a long hard road to the semifinals, having wasted a couple of glorious chances in regulation time. The Ostriches started the Friday night encounter on a high note, piling pressure on Extension Gunners from the first whistle on. Attacking with speed, the Orapa trio of Maswena, Patrick Lenyeletse and Mandlaenkosi Sibanda caused the Gunners defence incessant problems and breached it at will, only for their wastefulness in front of goal to deny them. Within six minutes from the start of the first half, Orapa had breached the Gunners defence twice, but were not able to finish off the chances created. Lenyeletse and Sibanda in particular were the main culprits, missing clear cut chances that would have seen ‘The Ostriches’ well out of sight by the end of the first half.
Lenyeletse should have given Orapa a lead in the 17th minute when he danced his way past the Gunners defensive duo of Katlego Mothibi and Mosimanegape Ntwaetsile but hesitated when facing goals, allowing Gunners keeper Lame Tladinyane to come and collect at his feet. Mandlaenkosi Sibanda then missed a glorious chance to give Orapa United a lead in the 24th minute, when after receiving Maswena’s low cross into the box, he scuffed wide what was supposed to be an easy tap in into an empty net, with the Gunners keeper nowhere to be found. Two minutes thereafter,  Orapa were unlucky not to take a lead as Lenyeletse’s effort hit an upright before Gunners keeper Tladinyane went down to give Coach Daniel Nare a chance to have a word with his players. The little pep talk was of no consequence as Orapa continued to pile on pressure, and Tladinyane had to be alert to save Mgcini Sibanda’s goal bound deflected shot in the 30th minute. Orapa however finally got their breakthrough as Lenyeletse made amends, heading in Maswena’s cross to give his team a deserved lead. With Gunners’ backs against the wall,  Orapa continued to launch wave after wave of attacks but could not find another goal, with Maswena also shooting wide just before recess as Gunners held on to ensure they are just a goal behind when the referee blew his half time whistle. From recess, Orapa went on an early attack and Maswena was unlucky not to extend his team’s lead as he hit an upright just a few seconds from the start of the second half.
Having weathered the storm, Gunners started finding their feet in the game and went on forage forward through substitute Kelelelo Kgosimore. Gunners then got a break in the 54th minute when the referee adjudged Thabang Mosige to have handled inside the box when under pressure from Moemedi Moatlhaping. From the resultant penalty, Moatlhaping stepped up to send Robert the wrong way and level the game for Gunners. The goal seemed to galvanise Gunners as they settled down and started taking the game to their oponents. The Peleng outfit then nearly took a lead in the 57th minute only for Pako Gaofose’s header to go wide. The game then descended into a scrappy affair and the referee was forced to flash yellow cards to calm emotions down before rain stopped play with just ten minutes on the clock left. 
From the rain induced recess, neither of the two teams could find the net and another 30 minutes of extra time was ordered. Despite Gunners being a much improved side in extra time and carving some early chances, they found themselves on the back foot eleven minutes in extra time as Chikomo headed past Tladinyane from a well taken Kealeboga Molebatsi cross. Maswena then hit the final nail into the Gunners coffin with just nine minutes of extra time left after some erratic defending by Mothibi. With Maswena closing in on him, the defender tried a shot pass at his keeper but Maswena was quick to intercept it and slot past the advancing Tladinyane and seal off Orapa’s entry into the semifinals.
Gunners: Lame Tladinyane, Katlego Mothibi, Boitumelo Modisaotsile, Desire Bafana, Mosimanegape Ntwaetsile,Kemmy Pilato, Emmanuel Machinya (Kelelelo Kgosimore), Isaac Paeye, Pako Gaofose, Moemedi Moatlhaping (Mogomotsi Mokoka), Tshegofatso Chimuku
Orapa United: Mosimanegape Robert, Kealeboga Molebatsi, Patrick Motsepe, Lesenya Ramoraka, Thabang Mosige, Olekantse Mambo, Mgcini Sibanda, Mandlenkosi Sibanda (Lovemore Murirwa), Patrick Lenyeletse (Thabang Sesinyi), Lemogang Maswena, Ronald Chikomo


Read this week's paper