Gaborone — Township Rollers ended 2017 top of the BTC Premiership log after narrowly defeating Extension Gunners 1-0 in a match played at the Lobatse Sports Complex on December 17.
Segolame Boy's corner kick inadvertently headed by Gunners' Desire Bafana into his own net in the 10th minute, proved to be the goal that separated the two giants on the day.
But it was not a walk in the park for a Rollers side that faced wave after wave of Gunners attacks in the second half, Mapantsula unlucky not to prise open a plucky Popa defensive performance. It was a game of two halves; Rollers the better side in the opening stanza, before a rush of blood to the head of defensive midfielder Ivan Ntege, his rash tackles leading to a sending off after two bookable offences.
Minus Ntege, Rollers were a man short in a second half dominated by a Gunners side powered by the gifted midfield playmaker Mothusi Cooper who gave a commanding man of the match display.
As early as the second minute, former Gunners captain Tshepo Motlhabankwe, donning the blue and gold of Rollers on the day, fired the first warning shot; his attempt on the overlap going wide.
Gunners' Ofentse Mmipi and Rollers' Boy then tested the two goalkeepers, but both Popa goal minder Keeagile Kgosipula and his opposite number Katlego Mbise were equal to the task. Rollers then got the lead, Bafana scoring the own goal after Boy had swerved in a curling free kick deep into the Gunners danger zone.
Cooper was displaying steady assurance in the midfield of the home side, while Ugandan international Ntege kept on clumsily committing fouls for the visitors.
It came as no surprise when Ntege was given his marching orders after a sec
ond yellow card in the 41st minute. Before the break, Gunners' Mandla Mgadla forced a save off Kgosipula with a long range effort, before Rollers' Lemponye Tshireletso tried a spectacular high ball that went over Mbise only to hit the side netting. Popa went into the break a goal to the good, and early in the second half Gunners displayed the early attacking initiative.
Mmoloki Kebalepile came close for Gunners, his header going over, while Kenanao 'Flo' Kgetholetsile failed to connect to Mgadla's cross with Kgosipula's goal at his mercy.
Rollers spent most of the second half playing a defensive game as Gunners dominated the possession stakes. During transition play, Mosha Gaolaolwe was brilliant for Popa, givinga commanding Yaya Toure type performance in the middle of the park where he was deployed.
Kgosipula was also effervescent, making a brilliant save from Kebalepile's shot, and cutting a Thabo Metlhayotlhe cross. The match ended 1-0 to Rollers.
Popa go into the mid-season Christmas break top of the log, with 33 points after ten wins and three draws, having eleven points more than second placed Jwaneng Galaxy, who sit on 22 points with a game in hand. Gunners are seventh on the log with 17 points from 13 games.
Source : BOPA