Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies sent out yet another solid and ominous message to their league rivals with a hard-fought 3-1 victory over First Touch Ladies in an action-packed Hollywoodbets Super League fixture at the Seshego Stadium in Polokwane.
After scoring seven times without reply last time out, Banyana Ba Style was faced with a different proposition who have lost just twice this season and possess the fifth-best defence in the league. The highly motivated hosts often renowned for their aerial control offered a contrasting tactical style and the high-flying defending champions opted for grit rather than flamboyance.
A highly competitive first few minutes delivered end-to-end action as both teams were looking to stamp their authority early on. The table-topping Brazilians eventually made their early pressures count with Andisiwe Mgcoyi grabbing the game’s opener thanks to some wonderful intricate play. The goal was Mgcoyi’s 15th strike of the campaign which keeps her firmly in the race for the golden boot award.
Just a few minutes later, the Limpopo Queens almost grabbed an instant equalizer but the Sundowns defence proved equal to the task. That early warning fired up the Brazilians who then grabbed complete control of the midfield with Chuene Morifi bossing the middle of the park with her great vision, passing range and instinctive break-up play.
Both teams continued to launch several attacking moves which kept the opposing goalkeepers on high alert. However, midway through the first half, Downs doubled their advantage thanks to the consistently brilliant Melinda Kgadiete who showed her lethal composure in front of the goal with a well-taken strike.
The keenly contested game continued to deliver high-pressure tackles with Mgcoyi and Nhlanhla Mthandi on the receiving end of some knocks and niggles. The Polokwane-based side continued to bulldoze their way through the very organized Masandawana backline and eventually got their reward from the corner kick on the stroke of half time with the in-form goalkeeper Asa Rabalo suffering a knock in the process.
With just one goal separating both sides at the break, both teams emerged for the second half full of vigour and optimism and looking to register the all-important next goal. The revitalized hosts upped the momentum and created the first batch of chances with fit-again goalkeeper Rabalo showcasing her reflexes on regular occasions which earned her several standing ovations. Consequently, Sundowns looked to their bench to extend their lead with Boitumelo Rabale joining the fray.
The invincibility-chasing Brazilians who weathered the storms a few minutes earlier responded in fantastic fashion with goal-hungry Kgadiete grabbing her brace and the team’s third in a superb passage of play. A few minutes later, the newly-introduced Boitumelo almost made an instant impact but her effort was blazed over the bar with so much venom.
For the remainder of the game, the home side continued to apply the pressure, but Coach Jerry Tshabalala’s charges delivered a rock-solid defensive performance to maintain their two-goal advantage and seal a gritty win.
Speaking after the match, Mgcoyi who scored the game’s first goal praised the team for showcasing their bravery in the keenly contested fixture.
“We are all doing our best. We train and prepare hard for games such as these. The final scores do not tell the full story. It was a highly competitive game and I was on the receiving end of some knocks on my thighs. I also received several whacks to my shin which is even swollen at the moment. Nevertheless, what is most important is the three points we earned. I am very happy that despite these bruises, we were able to grab the maximum points.” Said the goal-scoring dynamo.
The hard-fought victory sees The Brazilians extend their unbeaten run in the Hollywoodbets Super League this season with 17 wins and one draw after 18 games played. Banyana Ba Style has also ripped through the league, scoring 66 goals and conceding just nine.
Image Credits: Denga Netshituka