There’s some truth in the old saying that it’s not over till it’s over, as Melchester Rovers would testify to, following their hard-fought 5-4 victory on penalties against Glendene United, in an epic men’s senior Safa Cape Town Coke Cup quarter-final clash, in Khayelitsha, on Sunday.
Trailing 2-0 for most of the second half, a well-timed switch by manager Shaheem Khan that saw striker Ralton Philander replacing defender Kashief Abrahams, paid off as Raees Raphael found the back of the net about 25 minutes short of the final whistle.
The equaliser arrived by special delivery, courtesy of Nazier Benjamin’s much-needed strike during time added on. With the score locked at 2-all seconds before the referee signalled the end of the match, the matter was now left in the hands of fate and a looming penalty shootout.
Although Melchester started better than the other side, they failed to capitalise on their chances and were punished mid-way through the first half when Glendene’s Lungile “Jumbo” Mayekiso scored the opener.
Glendene extended their lead after the break when Alutha Nongilana scored their second. However, it was not a done deal, as Melchester piled on the pressure in the final quarter and pushed the game into penalties.
“To come back from two goals down shows a great team effort. We never panicked and the players did what was expected from them,” said Khan.
Mellies will now face a rampant Two for Joy in the semi-finals, on Sunday, September 25.
The Helderberg-based side thrashed Langa’s Citizen’s FC 5-2 to book their spot in the semi-finals.
“Two for Joy have been playing good soccer because they beat our league rivals SSS Academy in an earlier round. But what counts is who performs on the day,” he said.
Khan’s squad have duplicated their form in the league as they are set to face FCG Hotspurs in a decider, at the weekend. “We need to stay positive and get the full three points on offer,” he said.
Established in 1985, the club has over the years, been affiliated to three different Local Football Associations – Hanover Park, Rygate and the Cape District Football Association – before joining the Turfall LFA last year.
It is not just their seniors who are doing well; their under-8s and 10s are second and first respectively in the league.
Club secretary Emeraan Phillips said they are experiencing one of their best seasons. “Credit should go to Shaheem and chairman Nur Losper for keeping the club on track.”
Meanwhile, Glendene United coach Shakes Ntombana said it was not all doom and gloom for his side despite Sunday’s dramatic defeat.
“My players played well. I can’t questions their hard work and determination. Once we were 2-0 up, we lost concentration,” he said.