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Free State book semi-final berth

Free State book semi-final berth
Free State players celebrate their win over USSA via a penalty shootout

by Staff Reporter

Thursday Jul 17, 2014. 11:56

The Free State booked their place in the semi-finals with a 3-1 penalty shoot-out win over University Sports South Africa in the first quarter-final of the SAB Under-21 National Championship at the Montshiwa Stadium in Mafikeng on Thursday morning.

The game was locked a 2-2 after regulation time.

A brace by man of the match Sifiso Nkosi handed USSA a two goal lead before the hour mark. Dylan O'Brien's spot-kick pulled one back for the Free State in the 70th minute before substitute Tebogo Modise scored with five minutes remaining to level matters.

O'Brien missed his penalty  in the shootout, but the miss was soon forgotten as Nicholas Maguwa pulled off two superb saves before Gabriel Moshoma thumped his effort over the bar, to send the Free State through to the final four.

The tightly contested affair was expected and that is what the teams delivered with chances few and far between in the opening stanza.

USSA posed the biggest threat in the opening exchanges with the towering  Nkosi heading just wide.

The USSA were almost the conductor of their own downfall as a back pass almost found the lurking Dylan O'Brien, but Brylon Petersen was alert and came to his defender's rescue in the 11th.

Neo Mamatela came the closest to the opener in the first 45. His powerful effort following a weaving run from Bruce Mtabane was well kept out by Magawu on the cusp of half-time.

In an inspired tactical chance, USSA head coach Nkululego Malgas moved the towering Nkosi from centre-back to striker at half-time.

The ambitions move reaped immediate reward with the lanky utility back scoring twice in the space of seven minutes to hand USSA a 2-0 lead before the hour mark.

Free State head coach Litre Mokitlane brought on Teboho Modise soon after the interval and the change paid dividends as the elusive striker won a penalty in the 70th minute, which O'Brien duly converted.

Modise then scored the equaliser in the 85th minute. The 'super sub' lost his marker before chipping the onrushing Brylon Petersen.

Free State will face either the Northern Cape or KwaZulu Natal in the semi-finals on Friday.