Premier League outfit MR Highlanders held their nerve to seal a penalty shoot-out victory over Broadhurst United (BU) and secure an Orange FA Cup quarter-final meeting with Township Rollers.
Sunday’s 3-2 scoreline was the Mahalapye-based side’s second consecutive ‘12-yard’ triumph over lower league opposition having also seen off Mochudi Centre Chiefs via the penalty spot in the last round.
The excitement of penalties followed a dreary 90 minutes, with little goalmouth action to entertain the healthy crowd that flocked to the Maruapula SSG Ground.
Despite being separated by 16 places in the football league tier, there was little to choose between the two teams, with much of the match bogged down in the midfield.
The First Division South side have conceded just 11 goals in 18 league outings and their well-organised defence proved more than a match for Highlanders’ lacklustre strike force.
However, goals have also been hard to come by for BU this season and, apart from the impressive Katlego Makhala’s long-range shot that fizzed just over the bar midway through the first-half, they rarely threatened.
Although they improved in the second-half, Highlanders were unable to convert their possession into chances and, somewhat inevitably, the encounter finished goalless.
It meant the tie was settled by the lottery of penalties, with the goal-shy BU missing three of their spot kicks (one was saved by Michael Pepukani while two missed the target) to go crashing out of the cup.
Speaking to Voice Sport after the game, Highlanders’ relieved Assistant Coach, Kabo Dintwa admitted his side did not play to their full potential.
“I am happy that we managed to reach the quarter-finals stage even though we failed to settle the match in 90 minutes. I feel we could have done better on the day,” he said.
On the other hand, BU Coach, Nonofang Motswaisi was left to rue what might have been.
“I think we could have won this match had we taken our chances. Furthermore, we started really slowly as we were desperate not to concede an early goal. But in the second-half we introduced pacey players such as Onalenna Solomon to try and take the match to them and it almost paid dividends,” reflected Motswaisi, adding he was proud of his players.
Next up for Highlanders is a trip to last year’s beaten finalist’s Rollers.
Popa left it late against Sua Flamingoes, Tumisang Orebonye’s 90th minute strike proving the difference between the two sides.
ORANGE FA CUP QUARTER-FINAL DRAW
Calender Stars v Masitaoka
Jwaneng Galaxy v Notwane
Police XI v Gaborone United
Township Rollers v MR Highlanders