MASERU — Nil-all going into the last 10 minutes with the champions attacking zealously and a crowd baying for blood, it looked a classic scene where the little side would get swallowed up, as it usually does, by Goliath.
But Maduma valiantly held on to grab a point and perhaps prove they won’t be pushovers this season.
Of course the course of a season isn’t determined in September, but early performances can set a marker of what may happen as the months progress.
And Saturday’s display showed Maduma are in the Vodacom Premier League on merit.
The goalless draw at Bambatha Tšita Sports Arena continued the tiny Khukhune side’s respectable start which sees them second on the log, with five points from three outings.
More importantly, it was another vital point in Maduma’s quest for survival in this bloodthirsty league season where four of the 14 teams will be chopped.
More performances like this and Maduma will be dancing with the stars next season.
On Saturday they came to Maseru prepared and played with confidence and discipline which frustrated their illustrious opponents.
After a cheeky sparring session in the first half, Maduma pulled back in the second, relying on counter-attacks as they turned their attention to protecting a precious point.
There were some scares — Matlama’s Hlomelang Theko was unable to convert decent chances from two rebounds — but Maduma’s visiting supporters made the 125km journey back to Butha-Buthe with smiles on their faces.
They would have noted their solid centre-back duo of Puseletso Makafane and Remaketse Qhobela
Experienced former Likuena midfielder Sidwell Mothea, roped in from LCS, was the backbone of Maduma’s performance until he was substituted with 20 minutes to go.
“To me a draw away from home is a win,” Maduma assistant coach Ntsatsana Phera said after the match.
“I believe we have shown that we are here to compete and that we are not here by mistake.”
“The result will give confidence to our fans that we can leave Khukhune and come back home with something,” he added.
Maduma will have a weekend off until their next match against promotion buddies Mabeoana in Matsieng on October 10.
For Matlama it was another disappointing display which would have had their fans asking whether this is the same side that claimed an historic league and cup double barely three months ago.
Granted Tse Putsoa were without three first-team stars, Litšepe Marabe, Tšoanelo Koetle and Tau Qobose, who were busy in Kenya with the Makoanyane XI, but the champions again looked flat and casual.
The windy and dusty conditions also didn’t help.
But even if the match had continued until today Matlama might not have scored – something that is frustrating coach Ntebele Taole.
“Some big-headedness has developed within the players,” Taole said.
“It’s natural, it happens when you win all the time.”
“I said there was no way Maduma could beat us, so maybe that also affected the players,” he added.
“But we will fix it.”
Matlama are however still within touching distance of first place in a league that is as crammed as a sardine can.
On Sunday LDF overcame Swallows 1-0 at Ratjomose to fly to the top of the league with six points.
But Sohle-Sohle are only two points ahead of Lioli, who stopped a losing streak against LMPS with a 1-1 draw at Old Europa on Sunday.
As the league takes its first drinks break for the Nthane Brothers Holdings Independence Cup this weekend, it’s still anyone’s guess who will wear the league’s shiny gold medals around their necks next May.