Sunday, February 5, 2023

VTM Secures Hawks

The emotions couldn’t have been so contrasting at the end of VTM FC’s 2 – 1 win over UB Hawks in the First Division league promotional playoffs this past Sunday.

As the referee blew the final whistle, pent up emotions erupted. There was unbridled elation for VTM FC but despair and anguish for the Hawks FC and its supporters.

For VTM FC, it was the relief of overhauling Hawks in the last match of the promotional playoffs, while for Hawks, it was heartbreak and anguish of losing promotion on the last day of the playoffs.

Before the final game, which was billed as the decider, VTM had been two points behind Hawks. For them, only a win would suffice. For Hawks, all they needed was a draw.

This little truth reflected on the approach both teams took on the final match played on Sunday morning at the Royal Aria Stadium in Tlokweng.

VTM FC, who until that point, had been accused of being unusually too cautious opted to take the attack to Hawks. The latter, who had been playing on the front foot took a cautious approach.

Hawks’ cautious approach only spurred VTM FC to pressure them. Eighteen (18) minutes into the game, the flood gates opened. Left unmarked in the box, Ayanda Molefhe had all the time to turn and put one past Tom Malesela, VTM FC 1 – 0 Hawks FC.

Realising promotion was slipping out of their grasp, Hawks abandoned their cautious approach. Despite their efforts, they could not get past their resolute opponents’ defence. When the referee blew the whistle for half time, VTM was still a solitary goal ahead.

Having recollected during recess, Hawks came into the second half with intent. Eight minutes from recess, they restored parity courtesy of Thabang Bojosi. After a quick exchange of passes with Aobakwe Galetshabe, Bojosi put the ball in the net. VTM FC 1 – 1 UB Hawks, game on!

For coach Leutlwetse Tshireletso, this was time to roll the dice and ring changes. The move paid dividends on the 63rd minute. Kesaobaka Ramotshwaedi, who had been a live wire since coming on as a substitute, sent Molefhe clear on goal and the latter was fouled in the box prompting the referee to point to the spot.

Molefhe dusted himself up and took the responsibility. Without breaking a sweat, he coolly slotted the ball to grab his second goal of the game and restore his side’s slender lead.

Again, Hawks found themselves chasing the game. With 15 minutes remaining and no goal coming, they rang changes. They hauled off four and replaced them with four pairs of fresh legs.

This however proved to be an exercise in futility as VTM FC held on to see off the match. As the final whistle blew, VTM FC burst in elation while the vanquished Hawks players sprawled on the Grand Aria turf.

For VTM FC coach Tshireletso and his players, it was mission accomplished. For Hawks, it was a case of ‘so near, yet so far.’ Their 19 game unbeaten streak had come to a brutal end.

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