From Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Bulawayo
HIGHLANDERS managed to consolidate their unbeaten run record in the first half of the season after they shared the spoils with rivals Dynamos in a tension-filled Castle Lager Premiership SOCCER tie at Barbourfields yesterday.
The visitors took a stunning second minute lead through Takesure Chinyama who unleashed one of his trademark shots from inside the 12-yard box that hit the roof of the nets with goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda having no chance of stopping it.
Milton Ncube equalised for Highlanders, who, with a little bit of lucky, could have collected maximum points but a casually taken penalty kick by the usually reliable Mthulisi Maphosa denied Highlanders a deserved and momentous win.
Substitute Beavan Chikaka, who had come in for Graham Ncube, was hacked down inside the box by Partson Jaure in the 70th minute and spot-on Victoria Falls-based referee Hardlife Ndazi rightfully pointed to the spot.
Dynamos players, led by stand-in goalkeeper George Chigova, mobbed the referee protesting against his decision to award Bosso the penalty, resulting in almost three minutes stoppage. It had to take Dynamos’ goalkeepers’ coach, Tichaona Diya, to intervene before his players took their position for play to resume.
They are lucky that the referee let them off the hook as indiscipline once again continued to dog the Harare side.
And when normalcy resumed, up stepped Maphosa to take the responsibility, sending his shot to the left of Chigova who dived and punched the ball back into play, sending a packed Mpilo End of the stadium, which was housing the DeMbare followers, into delirium.
The miss affected Maphosa as his performance went down thereafter. Highlanders’ goalminder Sibanda had a good day in the office with his best save being the acrobatic save in the 66th minute off a curling Ocean Mushure’s free-kick.
Bosso never panicked but instead took the game to Dynamos and at one time literally camping in their opponents’ half.
The equaliser could have come in the 31st minute when Milton Ncube came to the end of a good move involving Peter Moyo, who played a blinder, and Simon Munawa, but the former’s header missed the target by a few inches.
Bosso were then on the warpath and kept on bombarding the Dynamos half and a goal was always coming and it did come exactly two minutes after Ncube’s missed header.
An in-swinger from the right side came in and it saw Ncube rising high above his marker, and goalkeeper Chigova came out of his line to try to cut it but he was slow to react. The ball beat him and sailed into an empty net although Jaure tried without success to clear it off the line but could only help it home.
DeMbare tried to hit back with Chinyama releasing another bullet from inside the box in the 38th minute but Sibanda was equal to the task.
A minute later, Chinyama was brought down by captain Innocent Mapuranga just outside the box and the referee again made a good call by signalling for a free-kick and the Orlando Pirates-bound striker took the responsibility of taking it. His effort though was blocked by the Highlanders wall.
The ever dangerous Milton Makopa was at it again four minutes before the breather but his header was again agonisingly off target with Sibanda off the action.
Munawa was brought down by Makopa, who had a good day in the office together with Cliff Sekete, and the resultant free-kick saw Chigova making a brilliant save with the Soweto end already up to celebrate a goal. The first half ended with the two local giants still tied at 1-1.
The first half saw Dynamos using the right wing for their raids with Sekete a constant menace as DeMbare coach Callisto Pasuwa realised that Bosso leftback Bruce Kangwa was constantly overlapping and when he did that no one was covering up for him.
Kelvin Kaindu brought in Chikaka for Graham Ncube who seemed to have picked a knock as he was no longer keeping the Dynamos defence of stand-in captain Guthrie Zhokinyi and Jaure on their toes. Besides the conceded and missed penalty, most of the play in the second half was punctuated by brilliant build ups from both sides that, however, did not produce any goals.
The visitors had a better show in the second half. “We came here to win but unfortunately that did not happen. We are happy with the draw though because it’s not easy to come here and win,” said DeMbare assistant coach Tonderai Ndiraya. He said their strikeforce could have done much better than their overall performance yesterday.
Bosso coach Kelvin Kaindu was also content with the final result although visibly not happy with the draw which, however, takes them to 15 games without a defeat.
“It’s good that we have finished the first half not knowing how it feels like to lose. The boys played according to our gameplan and I think they did well,” said Kaindu.
About 20 000 fans paid their way to Barbourfields to witness “the Battle of Zimbabwe Part One” with both sets of fans behaving sportingly save for the perimeter fence that was pulled down by suspected Dynamos fans at the Mpilo end as they celebrated Chinyama’s stunning opener. The fence was, however, pulled up and there was no major incidents after that. The Herald
Highlanders: A. Sibanda, A. Musasa, B. Kangwa, I. Mapuranga, E. Mudzingwa, M. Maphosa, P. Moyo, G. Ncube (B. Chikaka 52nd minute), M. Ncube (O. Zibande 80th minute), M. Mambare, S. Munawa (A. Ndiweni 63rd minute)
Dynamos: G. Chigova, M. Makopa, T. Muparati, R. Mutuma (M. Vengesai 56th minute), G. Zhokinyi, T. Mabvura, P. Jaure, O. Mushure, T. Chinyama (A. Kaseloki 76th minute), C. Sekete (D. Kabwe 86th minute).
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