From Ricky Zililo in Bulawayo
Highlanders ………………….…… (2) 5
Hardbody ……………………….. (1) 3
BULAWAYO- There was an avalanche of goals at Barbourfields yesterday when Highlanders beat Hardbody in a tightly contested Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter. The result saw Bosso moving a place up the ladder to fourth with six points from two outings while Hardbody were left to do some soul searching as they have lost all their first three matches.
The Gweru outfit drew first blood in the 10th minute through Aleck Marime who capitalised on a goalkeeping blunder by Arial Sibanda who missed the ball completely in a bid to clear a harmless-looking Nhlanhla Ncube through ball.
Graham Ncube, who scored a brace, equalised for Bosso in the 23rd minute after getting to the end of an intelligent defence-splitting pass by Simon Munawa following a brilliant build-up.
The goal unsettled the visitors who had managed to hold on to the lead for the better part of the opening quarter.
With Mthulisi Maphosa in impressive form, Highlanders took the game away from the visitors and they got their reward three minutes before half-time when Munawa kept his cool in the box and slotted the ball beyond a diving Hardbody goalkeeper Tapiwa Marime.
Highlanders’ goal was simply exhilarating, as they had kept the ball for five minutes, with Hardbody chasing in vain.
The well-orchestrated move that led to the goal saw Maphosa, Bhekimpilo Ncube, Peter Moyo and Milton Ncube exchanging passes before Milton sent in a cross that Hardbody defenders failed to deal with, leaving Munawa with acres of space in the box to slot the ball home.
Hardbody managed to draw level five minutes after the break through former Shabanie Mine striker Michael Mageja who beat Sibanda from close range.
Again, Hardbody capitalised on a silly mistake by Bhekimpilo who had made a blind pass to Aleck and the former made a through pass to Mageja who beat a drawn out Sibanda.
Heritani Masuku, who came in for Bhekimpilo in the 53rd minute, made it three for Bosso with his first touch in the 57th minute after getting to the end of a Munawa hard and low shot from the right.
Munawa had easily dribbled past Andrew Chuma before sending the cross.
On the stroke of the hour, Highlanders’ coach Kelvin Kaindu took off defender Atlast Musasa and introduced Masimba Mambare in a move meant to increase his attacking options but the move nearly backfired for him as the visitors kept on fighting.
Hardbody, who came into yesterday’s match coming from successive defeats against Dynamos 3-0 and 1-0 at home to Black Mambas, kept on fighting and with a little bit of luck they could have stolen a point at Barbourfields. In the 74th minute, Richard Jongwe dispossessed Highlanders’ leftback Honest Moyo before dribbling past four Bosso players and sending a through ball to Aleck on the right flank who then flicked it into the box to an unmarked Irvine Mugwamba who beat Sibanda from close range.
Kaindu responded by pulling out an injured Munawa and introduced defender Bruce Tshuma in the 77th minute.
Three minutes later, Chuma fouled Moyo on the right just outside the Hardbody penalty area and up-stepped Maphosa who sent in an in-swinger from the set piece which Graham rose high to head past a diving Tapiwa. In the 84th minute Mambare put the game beyond the reach of Hardbody with a glancing header to mark wild celebrations among the Bosso faithful at Barbourfields.
Highlanders were unfortunate as they had to play the last five minutes with 10 men after Masuku had picked up an injury and Bosso had used all their substitutes while Milton and Graham were limping too.
Kaindu was not amused about his players letting in soft goals.
“It’s important we got the three points but we conceded easy goals. I am not happy with the way we defended. We won but we still have lots of work to do,” said the Zambian expatriate. His counterpart Tavaka Gumbo praised his charges for a spirited performance and was hopeful of getting a better result in their next match against Hwange.
“It was a nice game which the boys played well but unfortunately we lost. We managed to come back twice which shows that we are getting there considering the time we took assembling our squad,” Gumbo said.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, I Mapuranga, E Mudzingwa, H Moyo, A Musasa (M Mambare 60th minute), M Maphosa, P Moyo, M Ncube, B Ncube (H Masuku 53rd minute), S Munawa (B Tshuma 77th minute), G Ncube
Hardbody: A Marime, C Simango, C Nyoni (J Mutambo 64th minute), H Gravel, A Chuma, B Juru, N Ncube (R Useni 62nd minute), R Jongwe, A Marime, M Mageja, I Mugwamba
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