Cape Town - Triumphant Cape Town City FC coach Eric Tinkler heaved a massive sigh of relief when the final whistle sounded to end his "horrendous" experience at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday when his side ran out 4-3 winners against Lamontville Golden Arrows.
Just ahead of the hour mark on Saturday, City ran up a commanding 4-0 lead. At that stage, Tinkler admitted after the match, he was bracing himself for a glut of goals to follow. Instead, he was left shaking in his boots as Arrows stormed back into the picture with three unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes.
The intensity and tempo with which Arrows played at the death, turned out to be a nightmare experience for Tinkler, who is serving his second stint as head coach at City.
"It was horrendous (the finish) to be brutally honest, just horrendous," said Tinkler. "I thought in the first half we controlled the match, and it was an exceptional performance from the boys.
"I thought what we had spoken about (in team talks) about getting (numbers) into that final third, well I saw a lot today. Our positional play was exceptional, and we were patient.
"We retained the ball well, and we looked to switch play.
"At halftime, we came into the dressing room with a deserved 3-0 lead, and when Craig (Martin) scored the fourth goal early in the second half, I thought the floodgates should have opened.
"Well, it did open, but it opened in the wrong direction. It opened for Arrows."
Tinkler said afterwards that the team's collapse may have been sparked by second-half substitutions. He felt the fresh legs fail to make an impact.
"I do not how their first goal came about because I was busy with a substitution," said Tinkler. "We spoke at halftime about keeping a clean sheet because that is very important.
"After their first goal, everything fell apart. I think losing Thami Mkhize when we did, was a big loss. All three goals, in the end, came from movements down our right side.
"It became 4-2 with a penalty, and we started panicking. We put ourselves under pressure when they scored the third goal. It was tough, the boys were fighting for their lives at the end, and we managed the 4-3 win.
Given the pressures the match exerted, it proved to be a classic dress rehearsal for City, who are playing Mamelodi Sundowns in next week's MTN8 Cup final in Durban.
"The win was very, very important because it helped us prepare for the MTN8 Cup final," said a highly relieved Tinkler.