Jomo Cosmos won their first and only game on the last day of the Promotional play-offs contest when they pipped Platinum Stars 2-1 at Vosloorus Stadium on Saturday.
Tebogo “Messi” Tlolane crowned his Man of the Match performance with a sublime goal deep into second half stoppage time to seal maximum points for Ezenkosi.
Ezenkosi’s heroes on the evening were goalkeeper King Ndlovu who saved a penalty, goal scorers Tebogo Tlolane and Lefa Hlongwane, substitute Mmiseni Ndlovu and utility player Tebogo Makobela, who provided two assists despite playing from an unfamiliar right back position and from left back during the latter stages of the game.
It was a good team performance that underlined the ruthless efficiency in this Ezenkosi side.
But it was a case of too little, too late, as Cosmos finished 2nd with five points in four matches, three points adrift of Black Leopards who topped the log with an unassailable eight.
Platinum Stars stretched Ezenkosi to the limits and never gave up the fight until the very end.
Cosmos boss, Jomo Sono was forced to reshuffle his back line and midfield following the absence of Vice-captain Denzil Haoseb and Ananias ‘Junior’ Gebhardt both on COSAFA Cup duty for Namibia.
Thapelo Tlabakwe filled in the left back position for his second league start of the season, while Tebogo Mabula was deployed in a midfield holding role.
At the blast of the whistle, Cosmos took the game to Dikwena, dictating the pace and firing pot shots at goal.
Their efforts paid off after 11 minutes when Lefa “Sdumo” Hlongwane connected Tebogo Makobela’s right wing cross with a low shot to beat goalkeeper Dino Visser.
But the hosts were dealt a big blow seven minutes later when Mabula limped off with an ankle injury and was replaced by Kizito Obi.
On the half hour mark, Hlongwane should have got his brace after receiving a brilliant pass from Makobela, but his shot hit the cross bar as Platinum Stars survived another onslaught.
The Cosmos forward line continued to terrorize the visitors, and in another goal bound move, Hlongwane appeared to have won a penalty after he was upended in the box by Sphamandla Mililo, but referee Luxolo Badi waved play on.
Two minutes later, Badi eventually awarded a penalty, but to the opposition this time after Bojosi “Josta” Manjoe was adjudged to have brought down Vuyo Mere illegally.
Mere stepped up and fired straight at Cosmos goalkeeper King Ndlovu who blocked the initial shot and saved the rebound on the goal line.
Cosmos led 1-0 at the break but gave up their slim advantage soon after the restart when Letsie Koapeng utilized a ‘gifted pass’ from King Ndlovu to tie the score.
With a quarter of an hour left to play, the Cosmos bench introduced Mmiseni “Ndishi” Ndlovu to the fray, and the midfielder made instant impact as Dikwena defenders had a torrid time curtailing his darting runs.
In the 2nd minute of stoppage time, Dikwena’s defence crumbled eventually when Makobela delivered a defence-splitting pass for an unmarked Tlolane to score his 5th goal of the season.
The result of the game was however, inconsequential as both teams will be campaigning in the NFD next season.
NFD/PSL Promotional/Relegation Play-offs
JOMO COSMOS (1) 2 (Hlongwane 11’ Tlolane 90+2’)
PLATINUM STARS (0) 1 (Koapeng 46’)
Ref: Luxolo Badi
COSMOS: K Ndlovu – Makobela, Lingwati (Capt), Lebahi, Tlabakwe (Laqwela 61’) – Mabula (Obi 19’), Sibeko, Tlolane, Jnr Sono (76’), Manjoe – Hlongwane.
SUBS NOT USED: Modiba, Kagiso Ndlovu, Rasilingwane, Nzimande.
COACH: Jomo Sono
STARS: Dino Visser – Vuyo Mere (Capt), Sphamandla Mililo, Sibusiso Mthethwa, Peter Molete – Molemo Mekoa (Ryan De Jongh 57’), Wangu Gome, Charles Baloyi (Raymond Monama 34’), Sipho Senne (Maboke Matlakala 70’), Zama Rambuwane – Letsie Koapeng
SUBS NOT USED: Steven Hoffman, Gerald Phiri, Gift Sithole.
COACH: Rogerio De Sa
BOOKED: Molete, Rambuwane