Owen da Gama. Picture: GALLO
Owen da Gama. Picture: GALLO

Their own costly mistakes and a referee who allowed time wasting were among the contributing factors Highlands Park coach Owen da Gama identified as part of his team’s 2-1 Premiership defeat against Mamelodi Sundowns on Tuesday night.

The coach also reluctantly singled out Park centreback Bevan Fransman‚ whose stray pass at Makhulong Stadium gifted the opening goal to Thapelo Morena in the 12th minute.

Normal right-back Morena‚ employed as a tearaway centre forward on the night‚ had given the rusty Fransman a torrid opening 20 minutes.

Da Gama has had to defend reports of a poor relationship with Fransman this season.

Questions have been asked why a candidate for PSL defender of the season for Maritzburg United in 2017/18 has dropped off the radar so significantly since his move to Highlands.

The soft goals the coach was referring to also included Fransman’s centreback partner Sphiwe Msimango giving the ball away to Themba Zwane for Downs’ second in the 20th.

The Park coach claimed referee Moegamat Julius allowed Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango to waste time.

“We gave them two very soft goals. The first one for Morena‚ the second one with no cover on Msimango‚” Da Gama said.

“So I thought it was very poor in defence. With the experience and leadership there at the back I was very disappointed.

“You know‚ we never talk about referees but I thought the referee was out of his depth. Number one‚ there was a lot of time wasting by the goalkeeper‚ and at set pieces and throw-ins.

“There were times when the goalkeeper would take about 10 or 12 seconds to take a kick. We were actually saying that we probably lost 15 to 20 minutes just on time wasting. But we lost because of our mistakes. And it’s sad when it comes from a very senior player.

“Bevan made a mistake there. Unlucky. And we will try and regroup and we’ll try and rectify things.”

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane was incredulous at the suggestion Onyango had time wasted against Highlands.

“I don’t know. But why was he [Onyango] not booked?” Mosimane queried.

“Why didn’t the referee go to him and warn him. And I don’t remember any of that?

“Did you [the media] see that yourself‚ [Onyango] lying there on the floor?

“And I’m trying to teach him to do that. Because I’ve seen even in the Champions League there are goalkeepers lying on the floor. And Denis could have done that against Wydad? But if you don’t do that against Wydad‚ why do you do that tonight?”

Sundowns beat Wydad Casablanca 2-1 in a foul-tempered Caf Champions League group game in Atteridgeville on Saturday night.