A share of the spoils in football world is normally ‘better than nothing’ as most coaches and football fans put it. It is rather viewed as a chance to go back to the drawing board and regroup, but not when stakes are as high as is the case with Matlama FC at the moment.

It is therefore a bitter pill to swallow for Matlama fans as their club plays to 1-all draw with LCS FC, thereby failing to collect three crucial points at LCS grounds on Sunday. A frustrated crowd cannot wait for the final whistle, upon which they fiercely attack referee Leloko Motlaase.

Fortunately, the cops are at rescue alongside both teams’ crowd marshals to calm the situation, so the attack is limited to just screaming and swearing.

Generally, the fans blame the referee for poor game management and they can be heard from the stands booing him on countless occasions for his decisions that later go against their team. A notable one is Lazola Jokojokwana’s goal that’s disallowed for offside call on the 82nd minute.

A goal that comes a minute after LCS’s equalizer and could have restored Matlama’s lead and potentially give them all three points.

Going into Match-week 29, Matlama are at the summit of Vodacom Premier League (VPL) table with a slight goal difference of advantage ahead of their bitter rivals Lioli FC as the two clubs are tied on 64 points.

Lioli FC on Saturday runs riot against Lifofane in Leribe scoring four goals, conceding none. By so doing, Lioli does not only leapfrog Matlama on the number one spot, they also manage to close the goal difference gap, which now remains at 35 for both teams. Matlama scores 51 goals, conceding 16 while Lioli scores 48, conceding just 13.

As predicted by Matlama Coach Halemakale Mahlaha in an interview with Informative Newspaper last week that the LCS game would not be an easy one for his club, it is not. Matlama makes only one change from their starting eleven that narrowly beat LU FC at the same venue a week ago, with former Chippa United and Bantu defender Tsietsi Khooa starting ahead of Paballo Mafeka in the heart of defense.

The game starts on a high tempo with both teams showing their intentions from the first whistle. The first fifteen minutes go by with none of the teams creating any clear goal scoring opportunities. ‘Tse Putsoa’ nearly snatches the lead on the 19th minute when their striker Lazola Jokojokwana is denied from close range by goalkeeper Tankiso Chaba. LCS on the other hand struggles to penetrate the middle of the park and there is not much action in their final third.

In response, Coach Thabile Secker rings a tactical change introducing the speedster winger and Lesotho international Thabo Seakhoa in place of Teboho Montlha before the half-hour mark. The match goes to halftime without goals.

Thirteen minutes into the second half coach Mahlaha makes a double change of former LCS striker and VPL top goal scorer Hlomelang Lebina and Katiso Thamae coming in for winger, Lerotholi Zwane and an anchor, Ts’eliso Lekhooa.

It takes Lebina only eighteen minutes on the pitch to haunt his former employers as he heads in Rethabile Mokokoane’s long ball played into the 18 area. A goal that sends Matlama fans into a frenzy. The joy is however short-lived, as LCS responds within five minutes.

Their Skipper Makara Ntaitsane pulls one with a calm header from close range with Matlama defenders ball-watching. A minute later, Matlama thinks they have restored the lead when Jokojokwana scores but the goal is disallowed for an offside call. It remains 1-1 until the last whistle, as the two sides settle for a point each.

Speaking after the game, Mahlaha applauds his charges for the way they applied themselves on the day. He states that had it been their day, they could have easily won the game, judging by the chances they missed. Going into the last game he emphasizes that his boys will give their all against log leaders Lioli and do the job for themselves on the day to win the title.

“I want to urge all Matlama fans to follow the team to TY this coming weekend. We are going to leave it all on the pitch in that game and were are up for it” he says.

Lioli and Matlama will play each other next week in TY (venue likely to change) in a blockbuster title decider game. In what is a rather awkward and rare scenario in a league football, the winner of this encounter will lift the 2023/24 VPL title at the very venue.