JANE Thabantšo came off the bench to help Matlama edge Linare 1-0 in a dull Econet Premier League tie at Setsoto Stadium yesterday afternoon.
The win saw Matlama return to winning ways after their 0-1 loss to LMPS at LCS Ground last weekend. Matlama are now second with 13 points, a hefty five points behind leaders Bantu.
Yesterday’s loss was the fourth for Linare after losing to Kick4Life, Lioli and Bantu respectively.
The sides had a drab first half that could be attributed to fatigue after both teams had busy a weekend.
The first attempt at goal came on the 24th minute but Matlama winger Theletsane Makume’s strike from inside the penalty area found the upright.
Matlama once again threatened on the 35th minute on the break with Phafa Tšosane passing the ball to Lehlomela Ramabele with only the goalkeeper to beat after catching the Linare backline napping. However, Linare goalkeeper Thetsane Sele saved Ramabele shot for a corner to keep his side in the match.
A minute later Matlama pressed their opponents on a counter and this time it was Lekhanya Lekhanya who forced Sele to make another save and the match went for the break with the sides deadlocked.
Linare were the first to make a change early in the second half introducing Tokeng Sidinko for Junior Maba. Tse Tala made their second change two minutes later introducing Rethabile Selonyane for Makhabane Mpeli.
Matlama also made their first change introducing youngster Mokoena Khoanyane for Ramabele shortly thereafter.
Tse Putsoa’s game improved in the second half and on numerous occasions looked dangerous with Lekhanya causing havoc down the right flank with his explosive runs. But the centre back duo of Michael Mireku and Rethabile Rasethuntša stood their ground and kept him at bay.
The visitors made their last change on 80 minutes withdrawing Lebajoa Mosehlenyane for Billy Pulumo and Matlama immediately introduced Thabantšo for Lekhanya.
Linare were five minutes away from collecting a point but it was not meant to be as Thabantšo easily tapped in after Sele spilled Makume’s.
Matlama made their last change pulling out Mabuti Potloane for Teboho Lillane soon afterwards.
Lillane could have extended the lead for the Sea Point outfit on a stroke of full time but his cracker from just outside the penalty area narrowly missed the target.
Linare coach Freeze Ntene said his charges were tired and lacked creativity.
“We played in a slow pace and you could see that our energy levels were low,” Ntene said.
“We have played three crucial matches against Lioli, Bantu and Matlama so there were some signs of fatigue today. I also think the losses have put the boys under pressure and they are now frustrated. There was absolutely no creativity today and we lacked the necessary aggression. We could not even create chances to score.”
Matlama coach Charles Manda on the other hand said he was happy to take the three points.
“It was a tough match for both teams and you could see that none of the teams wanted to lose the match because we both came from losses last weekend.
“But in the second half we went for experience and brought in Jane who ended up scoring. We are happy with the win and we will take it as we go back to prepare for Bantu on Sunday,” Manda said.