A second half Kamogelo Matsabu goal gave Township Rollers a slight 1-0 advantage over Black Forest in the Mascom Top 8 quarterfinal first leg played at the Molepolole Sports Complex on Friday night.
In a match typical of much of Rollers season so far, Popa dominated the match and created most of the chances but had to settle for a single goal victory, with the Blues also having missed a first half Joel Mogorosi penalty.
Rollers will take the slender lead into the second leg, but will feel confident having dominated a match where Forest goalkeeper Itumeleng Selapa was the Man of the Match.
Keeagile Kgosipula, Kaone Vanderwesthuizen, Galabgwe Moyana and Kamogelo Matsabu made the line up as interim head coach made several changes to the line up that started midweek against Bantu in the Champions League.
Wagarre Dikago, Jackson Lesole, Maano Ditshupo and Simisani Mathumo were rested.
Rollers started with a line up of Keeagile Kgosipula, Motsholetsi Sikele, Mosha Gaolaolwe, Thatayaone Ditlhokwe, Kaone Vanderwesthuizen, Ivan Ntege, Lemponye Tshireletso, Galabgwe Moyana, Segolame Boy captain for the day Joel Mogorosi and Kamogelo Matsabu.
After a slow start to the game, Rollers picked up the attacking game as the first half wore on. Joel Mogorosi saw his header hit the crossbar close to the half hour mark.
Popa was awarded a penalty after the Forest defence handled the ball in the box under pressure from Kamogelo Matsabu. Mogorosi took a couple of steps before hitting a an attempt saved by Selapa who also blocked; Galabgwe Moyana’s attempt to convert the rebound.
Late on in the first half Selapa blocked a Matsabu attempt in the box; Forest centre half Kerapetse Mosimanekgosi then cleared the ball to safety.
The match went into the half time break goalless.
Popa stepped up their attack in the second half and were duly rewarded when Tshireletso set up Matsabu to open the Blues account with a close range finish in the 59nd minute.
Substitute Tumisang Orebonye, who had come on for Mogorosi along came close after good work on the left wing by Tshireletso who whipped in a cross met by Orebonye whose effort went agonisingly wide from deep within the Forest danger zone.
Bogosi Mfila was brought on for Moyana as Popa went for the kill.
Mfila on the break went past the advancing Selapa but the Popa attacker had his shot hit from just outside the penalty area fly wide.
Selapa was alert to punch away a Boy free kick knocked in from the right wing.
Late on Gaolaolwe had a great chance deep in the Forest penalty box with Selapa flatfooted, but once more another opportunity went begging.
It ended one nil to the Blues.
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