Defending champions Township Rollers left it late against struggling city rivals Notwane FC on Sunday as they got their stuttering season back on track with a hard fought 3-1 victory at the National Stadium.
Goals in the 80th and 86th minute from Tumisang Orebonye and substitute Tlhalefo Molebatsi ensured Popa started the new year with maximum points, bringing an end to a three-match winless streak.
The result leaves fourth-placed Rollers three points behind league leaders Orapa United, who suffered a surprise 1-0 loss at home to Prisons XI on Saturday.
In his first outing in charge following the sacking of Tomas Trucha, Rollers Interim Coach Zachariah Mudzadze saw his side get off to the worst possible start, falling behind to a 10th minute wonder strike from Keiponye Mphoyamodimo.
The goal seemed to act as a wake-up call for Rollers, who responded in fine fashion, forcing a deserved equalizer midway through the first half courtesy of an Onkarabile Ratanang free kick.
Speaking to Voice Sport after the final whistle, a relieved Muzadzi praised his players for sticking to the game plan.
“I am impressed with how the boys played; they did exactly what we asked them to do! We wanted to play a high pressing game and that is what we did and eventually won the match.”
Turning his attention to the rest of the season, with the title set for a four-horse race between Rollers, Orapa, Security Systems and Jwaneng Galaxy, Mudzadze said, “We are used to being at the top of the log hence that will be our focus from here. We want to accumulate as much as we can so that we return to that position we are used to.”
For his part, Notwane gaffer Oupa Kowa remains confident his team will escape relegation.
Currently 15th in the league, with just Miscellaneous below them, Toronto endured a terrible start to the season, failing to score in their first six games and managing just a single point.
The disastrous run came on the back of a six-point deduction for failing to meet the league’s licencing requirements.
Since then Notwane have enjoyed a revival of sorts, collecting 16 points from their last ten fixtures.
Although they remain in the relegation zone, they are just a point behind Molepolole City Stars, Tafic, Gilport Lions and Extension Gunners.
“I believe we will survive. I am receiving a great deal of support from management so it is still early for us to give up. We are going to keep fighting until we reach our goal which is to survive!” stressed Kowa, who will have taken heart from his team’s performance against Rollers.
“We are not in a good position and time is ticking hence we cannot afford to lose games like this because we have set ourselves standards and if you do not adhere to them you end up losing games.
“All the four goals that were scored on the day were beautiful but I think Rollers dominated the first-half while we played better on the second-half. We were just unfortunate to concede those two late goals which sadly ensured our defeat,” he reflected ruefully.
BTC PREMIERSHIP RESULTS
Molepolole City Stars 0 – 0 Security Systems
Orapa United 0 – 1 Prisons XI
Morupule Wanderers 3 – 0 Miscellaneous
Extension Gunners 1 – 4 Police XI
BDF XI 5 – 1 TAFIC
Gilport Lions 0 – 1 BR Highlanders Gaborone United 1 – 3 Jwaneng Galaxy