Township Rollers maintained their unstoppable form as they came from two goals down to crush Police XI 4-2 in the first round of the Mascom Top 8 knockout quarterfinal first leg played at National Stadium on Saturday (October 31).
Police came with guns blazing in the first half and showed their intentions to humiliate Rollers aka Mapalastina in their own turf hence a Tapiwa Gadibolae fourth minute attempt which however went wide.
Rollers’ Segolame Boy also tried to score an early goal in the seventh minute with a long range, which seemed too hot for Police keeper, Bokamoso Moeba to handle and it bounced back into play but Joel Mogorosi’s effort to capitalise on the opportunity was handled by the keeper.
Police continued to move forward looking for an early goal and in the 20th minute their hard work paid off after Gadibolae capitalised on Rollers’ defense blunder to make it 1-0 for the Jungle Kings.
As Rollers players and supporters were still reeling in shock, Betsho Pius scored a second classical goal to put the Jungle Kings in a good position to win the game.
The second away goal for Police seemed to have knocked some sense into Rollers players as they fought relentlessly to get back to the game, and a minute before recess Rollers captain Maano Ditshupo received a cross from Mogorosi, and he did not waste time heading it straight into the net, to make it 2-1 before half time.
After the break, Mapalastina coach, Mark Harrison made double substitution pulling out Otlaantshekela Mooketsi to replace him with Sekhana Koko and also introduced Jerome Ramatlhakwana for Carl Finnigan.
Immediately after substitutions, Rollers increased the game pace and Police players seemed very confused given that their solid defense which was very effective in the first half seemed to have been ripped to shreds. In the 71th minute, the Police camp was ambushed by Mapalastina after Ditshupo, who was a marvel to watch, received a good ball from Mogorosi and scored his brace to make it 2-2.
Little did Police know that more trouble was coming their way and a few minutes later Mogorosi managed to spot Boy who managed to dribble defenders and passed the ball to Ramatlhakwana who was in good position and did not hesitate to make it 3-2.
As the game progressed, the Police camp was now reduced to mere spectators while Rollers enjoyed the game and continued to move forward looking for another goal.
In the 77th minute, Mogorosi received a good cross from Koko and headed it home to make it 4-2. In the 90th, Motsholetsi Sikele, who came in as substitute was unlucky after doing all the work and his attempt to get one past the keeper hit the woodwork.
In a post-match interview, Police XI coach, Maxwell Moyo said Township Rollers substitutes won the game for them on the day and that his team had brought in average players.
“We should be frank, Rollers is a big team. All 16 teams in the premiership are trying to beat them. However, we will try again next time and see how things go,” Moyo said. He also indicated that his side was punished due to ‘silly mistakes.’ He added that quality players always punished their opponents from such mistakes. Nevertheless, he said adding they had learnt a good lesson from the game.
On the other hand, Coach Harrison said he was disappointed by his team’s first half performance, which he described as a horror show.
Harrison was also disappointed with his players’ mental application and attitude which he said was their biggest problem.
He was also not happy because they did not approach the game properly, hence their second half improved play and the right attitude. He also said Ditshupo’s goal just before the break had lifted the players spirit.
“Moving forward we have to be intelligent enough and prepared because teams are going to park their jumbo jets and that will be difficult for us, hence we have to be prepared to open them up,” he said.
Meanwhile, the two meet again on November 22 in the second leg of Mascom Top 8 knockout quarterfinals.