Last-gasp goal keeps Leopards’ hopes alive

2010-03-01 00:00

A GOAL in the final minute by Black Leopards in the first leg of the National First Division play-off final against Vasco Da Gama at the Tshifulanani Stadium in Limpopo has kept alive the northern province team’s PSL promotion hopes.

Vasco took an early lead through Zeka Karkee, but Grant Lungu’s 94th-minute header gives Leopards some hope ahead of Saturday’s return game in Cape Town, although Carlos das Neves’s side do still have an away goal to their advantage.

Leopards were boosted by a capacity crowd, while Vasco would have been grateful for the unusually cool conditions up-country.

Vasco showed no signs of being intimidated by the unfamiliar surroundings, making a positive start. Although they pushed forward early on, however, this did not result in any decent chances on goal.

Leopards shaded the contest in terms of possession, but only had a sliced shot that flew off target from Mhlatse Maake in the 19th minute to show for their efforts.

And Lidoda Duvha found themselves 1-0 down after 23 minutes when some poor goalkeeping and non-existent marking from a Robbie Santo corner allowed Karkee to head home unchallenged from three yards out for his first goal of the season.

Leopards almost levelled matters two minutes later when Robert Ngambi’s shot struck one of his own players to leave keeper Postnett Omony stranded, but the ball deflected just wide of the upright.

Home goalkeeper Mashudu Mamphita had been very much to blame for the opening goal, but he kept his side in the game with a breathtaking reflex save after midfielder and captain Keenin Lesch had ghosted through the home defence and unleashed a powerful drive.

Eight minutes into the second half, the home side were desperately unlucky not to equalise when Ngambi’s expertly-struck volley crashed into the upright.

Leopards gave their all in search of a goal, but it looked as if Vasco were going to hold on for the win as they defended resolutely.

That was, however, until the final minute of added time when Lungu sneaked in to nod home a free-kick.

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