From Sikhumbuzo Moyo in Bulawayo
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Bufalloes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .0
BULAWAYO giants Highlanders chose the hardest way to claim three points over visiting army side Buffaloes in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League encounter at Barbourfields that had a last minute drama.
Masimba Mambare drilled from close range in the 14th minute in what proved to be the game’ decider.
In scoring the winner, Mambare atoned for an indifferent show against Dynamos in the Battle of Zimbabwe II at Rufaro last Sunday in which he was hauled off early in the second half. That the first half in yesterday’s game was pulsating was never in doubt.
Buffaloes had to wait for a good 48 minutes to take their first corner kick. Two things, however remain a mystery to those that were at the match venue, why Highlanders went to the breather not leading by at least four goals and what it might really take for Cleopas Dube to open his scoring account.
The former ZPC (Hwange) player did everything that a striker has to do, including hitting the woodwork in each half, first in the 24th minute when his diving header off a Lawson Nkomo cross hit the upright post before bouncing back into play and his second effort coming in the 69th minute.
In both cases Buffaloes goalkeeper, Hopeful Bere had been beaten clean. Bere had a nasty welcome to Barbourfields when he was yellow carded by referee Philani Ncube in the sixth minute for time wasting as he tried to stop a barrage of Bosso raids.
With Highlanders piling on pressure on the visitors, they were bound to take a little comfort and remain susceptible to sporadic attacks from the visitors.
One such attack did come in the 11th minute and a defence splitting pass from Muchineripi Wayerera from the right found an on-rushing Roy Mwengwa who let loose a bullet from the edge of the box that however went slightly over the bar for a Bosso goal kick.
In the 14th minute, spectators were treated to some beautiful football when Bruce Kangwa dribbled his way past a cluster of Buffaloes defenders and found himself inside the 12-yard box.
When he was about to go for the kill, the ball was hooked away from him by Muchineripi who directed it to Dananai Chinowawa who was clearly sleeping on duty and was duly disposed by Bhekimpilo Ncube.
The gangly Bhekimpilo wasted no time to cross the ball that found an on rushing Mambare who made no mistake. The former Motor Action player was back to ask questions again two minutes later but this time his screamer from just outside the box went over the bar.
At that moment, Bosso followers must have been justified to foresee a massacre but the black and white army could not find the second goal, although it was clear that even the visitors would not open their account.
Buffaloes were making constant mistakes of losing possession while Highlanders kept charging forward with Mthulisi Maphosa displaying his usual good form with passes while Heritein Masuku also played well in his role in the thick of things in the midfield.
Credit though should go to Buffaloes coach Chaminuka who realised that Highlanders were relying much on Kangwa’s overlaps from the left flank and when he did that, Nkomo would also do the same from the right side and that left Bosso exposed on the wings. It was from such an oversight that disaster nearly befell Highlanders.
A through ball on the left side found Mwenga who charged towards goal and with the defence miles away, found himself face to face with the Warriors goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda and instead of hitting a hard and low shot, Mwenga lifted his shot and Sibanda went airborne and made a brilliant diving catch .
The second segment saw the visitors applying a 3-5-2 system in order to congest the midfield and their strategy somehow worked as Bosso suddenly found it difficult to play their usual game.
Buffaloes striker Berven Chirere, so full of running was a constant threat to the ageing Innocent Mapuranga, especially on through balls and counter attacks.
The championship chasing Highlanders tried to make some positional changes in order to counter their opponents’ moves, bringing in Peter Moyo for Bhekimpilo in the 50th minute and young Ozias Zibande for Milton Ncube in the 63rd minute.
Zibande though was the more effective of the two substitutes as Moyo was guilty of losing possession unnecessarily and failing to anticipate passes from his colleagues. Bosso coach Kelvin Kaindu was satisfied with the overall showing by his charges but felt they should have buried the chances that came their way.
“We played well despite missing several chances. I really think all the boys that played today did well,” said Kaindu.
Chaminuka bemoaned the early goal conceded by his team but also felt the boys played well. The Chronicle
Highlanders: A Sibanda, L Nkomo, B Kangwa, E Mudzingwa, I Mapuranga, M Maphosa, H Masuku, M Ncube (O Zibande 63rd minute), B Ncube (P Moyo 50th minute) , M Mambare, C Dube
Buffaloes: H Bere, P Alfas, D Chinowawo, J Jambo, P Matizanadzo, T Ndlovu, M Wayerera, P Bamusi (P Mudau 70th minute), B Chirere, R Mwenga (P Thembani 70th minute), S Muchabaya (M Mageja 57th minute)
Gunners 1 Monomotapa 0
Hwange 5 Hardbody 1
Motor Action 2 Quelaton 0
Chicken 5 Blue Rangers 1
Black Mambas 0 Dynamos 3
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