Township Rollers advanced to their fifth Mascom Top 8 final courtesy of an away goals rule after a 1 all draw with defending champions Jwaneng Galaxy.
Rollers seemed on course for an easy stroll into the finals following Motsholetsi Sikele’s 26th minute strike, but a leveller from Galaxy’s former Rollers front man Terrence Mandaza seven minutes from time led to a nervy end for Rollers.
With Rollers having played to a two all draw away to Galaxy in the first leg, the 1 all draw was enough to set ‘Popa’ on course to match cross city rivals Gaborone United (GU) as the Mascom Top 8’s most successful team.
Despite making it to four of the six past Mascom Top 8 finals, Rollers have only won the title once, which was during its debut season in the 2011/12 season. They are however one title behind GU who has won all of the two Mascom Top 8 finals they have played in.
Since winning the 2011/12 Top 8 title, Rollers then made the finals in three successive seasons in 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 but have lost them all to BDF XI, GU and Orapa United in that order.
While Rollers will be happy with advancing to the finals, they were however nearly made to rue the plethora of chances they created but failed to convert.
“A realistic picture for the first half was 6 ÔÇô 0 score for us but we missed our chances. We should have scored five or six goals,” a relieved Rollers coach Nikola said after the game.
Popa should have taken the lead just 50 seconds from kick off but Ofentse Nato shot over the bar.
Nikola’s boys then missed a few other chances as Lemponye Tshireletso’s free header from Galaxy keeper Ezekiel Morake’s error missed the target before Motsholetsi Sikele and Edwin Moalosi also missed chances.
The deadlock was however broken on the 26th minute as Morake palmed Moalosi’s goal bound strike on the path Sikele, who easily rolled it into the net and both teams went to recess with ‘Popa’ a goal into the final.
The second half was however a different ball game as Galaxy threw caution to the wind and took the game to Rollers.
The Jwaneng side was rewarded for their efforts on the 83rd minute as Mandaza headed them level following an inviting cross from Gilbert Baruti to set up an interesting final minutes to the game.
It was however too little too late as Rollers held on for a valuable draw that sent them into the finals.