MASERU — For the first time in many years the final day of the season, Sunday, witnessed tension at both ends of the league table.
At the top, it was a dog-eat-dog affair as four sides battled to join champions Matlama and second-placed Lioli in the top four.
At the other end, three sides could still be culled from the Vodacom Premier League to join already-relegated Botha-Bothe Roses and Rovers.
In the end, LMPS were able to get into the top four for the second year running after upsetting fellow hopefuls Bantu 2-0 in Mafeteng.
Simunye were joined in the elite group by LDF, who are in the top four for the seventh consecutive season.
The army side crushed LCS’s hopes of a top-four place with a 2-1 win over Masheshena at Ratjomose thanks to goals from Mojela Letsie and Mokoenanyane Moahloli.
LDF assistant coach and defender Malefetsane Pheko said he was happy Sohle-Sohle had managed to get into the top four again after the league’s top scorer Letsie, with 16 goals, helped the army side leapfrog their state rivals LCS.
“If we didn’t get into the top four it was going to kill us,” Pheko said.
“Now we can go back and build for next year and try to compete better than we did this season.
“The league was competitive this season and a problem that we had as a result was that we got many injuries and suspensions.
“But we are happy we are in the top four again.”
At the bottom of table, traditional giants Majantja were relegated despite beating Nyenye Rovers 1-0 in Mohale’s Hoek because of Swallows’ 1-0 win over Lerotholi at the Central Prisons.
That result secured Maswai-swai’s survival at the expense of Majantja and Nyenye Rovers who will now be playing in the first division next season.
The season will go down in history as one that was competitive and mediocre at the same time.
The top six sides are only separated by 12 points whereas last season the side in fourth place, LMPS, were 19 points behind champions Lioli.
Newly crowned champions Matlama’s points tally of 63 is also the lowest for any league winners over the last five years.
The campaign also suffered from a lack of goals, with no side reaching the 50-goal mark this season — the first time it has happened since the 2003/04 season.
Roses ended the season with the worst defensive record of the past five seasons, with 78 goals conceded, after losing 4-0 to Rovers in their last premiership game on Sunday.
Bantu 0-2 LMPS, LDF 2-1 LCS, Majantja 1-0 Nyenye Rovers, Likhopo 2-2 Linare, Lioli 0-0 Mphatlalatsane, Botha-Bothe Roses 0-4 Rovers, Matlama 3-3 Joy, Lerotholi 0-1 Swallows