POPA SUNK BY LAST GASP WINNER
Township Rollers’ title aspirations suffered a huge setback at the feet of an inspired Gilport Lions, who pulled of the shock of the season at the National Stadium on Saturday evening.
Going into the fixture, few predicted anything other than a routine Rollers win.
However, a last gasp strike from super-sub Lone Taele sealed an unlikely 2-1 victory for Gilport and left Rollers rooted to 4th place, three points behind new league leader’s Jwaneng Galaxy.
The winger had only been on the pitch for ten minutes when he broke Popa hearts, brushing off the challenge of Rollers captain Ofentse Nato as he burst into the box.
With the angle against him, Taele opted to shoot, his well-struck effort taking Kabelo Dambe by surprise, beating the flat-footed keeper at his near post.
The goal capped a fine performance from Gilport’s young lions, who matched their more-fancied opposition for much of the 90 minutes.
Mandivenga Paradzayi’s troops stuck to their game plan manfully, not giving Rollers any time or space on the ball.
The tactic led to a subdued first-half lacking in goalmouth action. However, the game burst into life on the stroke of half-time when Gilport were awarded a penalty courtesy of a handball from Rollers right back Kamogelo Matsabu.
Up stepped Kevin Bulala, who showed nerves of steel to dispatch his spot kick past Dambe’s despairing dive.
As expected, the second half saw Mapalastina up the tempo in their bid to force an equalizer. Mothusi Cooper and Arnold Mampori both went close before Popa’s pressure finally paid off in the 70th minute.
There seemed little danger when Lemponye Tshireletso received the ball on the edge of the area. Producing a moment of magic out of keeping with the rest of Rollers’ workman-like performance, the veteran midfielder unleashed a sublime strike with his weaker right foot, the ball flying past Richard Mampane in the Gilport goal.
The stage seemed set for the three-time defending champions to push for a winner. Taele, however, had not read the script, his late heroics condemning newly-appointed Rollers coach Frank Nuttal to his first defeat in the Scot’s second league game in charge.
After the match, a proud Paradzayi described beating Rollers as ‘an honour’.
“We did not expect to beat Rollers because they are one of the biggest teams in the country. We had hoped to maybe get a draw but the boys put up a fine performance to ensure that we collect all the three points and I am delighted!”
For his part, a disappointed Nuttal turned down all requests for a post match interview.
Extension Gunners 1 – 4 BDF XI
Orapa United 0 – 2 Gaborone United
BR Highlanders 0 – 4 Jwaneng Galaxy
Police XI 2 – 3 Notwane
Molepolole City Stars 2 – 3 Miscellaneous
Prisons XI 2 – 1 TAFIC
Morupule Wanderers 3 – 3 Security Systems