The saying that ‘three is a charm’ bore no semblance for Township Rollers as they were held to a no goal stalemate by city rivals Gaborone United (GU). Despite hitting the upright three times in the first half of their game with GU this past Saturday, Popa were left to rue the missed chances as the match went goalless. While both Rollers Coach Mark Harrison and his GU counterpart Allen Gumbo described the goalless stalemate as a fair result for both teams, Harrison however still looked at his team’s three assaults on the upright with a tinge of regret. “I felt we should have sealed the game in the first half when we hit the post three times. These are the chances and you got to take them because sometimes they come back to haunt you,” the Rollers gaffer explained.
In what was a thrilling start to what is now known as the Gaborone Derby, Rollers first chance came in the 6th minute when Segolame Boy found his captain Maano Ditshupo with a delightful pass but the latter hit the upright. Rollers carved another chance three minutes later as Joel Mogorosi’s pass found the feet of Boy, only for the latter to brush the upright and go out. Not content to sit back, GU then had a chance of their own in the 12th minute as Ntesang Simanyana’s shot from Mpho Kgaswane’s assist was easily saved by Rollers keeper Kabelo Dambe. Rollers’ wastefulness in front of goal continued unabated in the half as Boy shot over the bar on the 24th minute before Mogorosi beat his man but failed to beat both GU keeper Goitseone Phoko and the upright.
With the likes of Alphonse Modisaotsile finding their feet as the first half wore on, GU bravely weathered the storm to ensure Rollers do not overwhelm them as they had done to other teams in their previous encounters. From recess, it was a better and more competitive GU that turned up, creating chances and taking the game to Rollers. While the two teams hustled and competed in the second half, the game however lost its spark in the last thirty minutes as substitutions and fatigue broke the rhythm of the match. With neither of the two teams dominating the game and no meaningful chances created, the two city giants had to be content with a goalless draw when referee Joshua Bondo blew the whistle to end the match.
“Rollers came here with their tales up after their emphatic win last week but we managed to hold our own,” GU Coach Gumbo said after the match. The gaffer said their plan all along was to weather Rollers’ assault in the first half and frustrate them. “If you look at a team like Rollers, they have really quality players and you know they are going to attack you. Look at how they scored last week. We were looking at a situation like that and we said let us absorb the pressure and then after we absorb the pressure, we keep their supporters quiet and they will become an ordinary side, then we will take the game to them,” Gumbo explained. The GU mentor however said he felt that the draw was a fair result as ‘this was a highly contested derby.’ The same sentiments were shared by Harrison, who said a win for either side at the end would have been ‘cruel.’
“As I told their (GU) coach earlier, I think on the night a draw was a fair result. I think for one of us to have stolen the game at the end would have been a little cruel,” the Rollers coach said. The draw means Rollers, who are yet to lose a game, are still top of the beMobile Premiership log standings, while GU is still rooted in seventh position.
GU: Phoko, Gaopatwe Seosenyeng, Osei Bonsu, Katlego Koobake, Thato Ogopotse, Tshepo Maikano, Modisaotsile, Simanyana, Kgaswane, Hendrick Moyo, Appiah Bismark.
Rollers: Dambe, Kaone van der Westhuizen, Simisani Mathumo, Mogogi Gabonamong, Tshepo Motlhabankwe, Lawrence Majawa, Ditshupo, Boy, Mogorosi, Motsholetsi Sikele, Jerome Ramatlhakwana.