By Ricky Zililo
Highlanders 1-0 Yadah FC
A GOALKEEPING boob by Yadah FC’s Tafadzwa Dube gifted veteran Highlanders’ striker Ralph Matema a 65th minute goal that earned his wasteful side maximum points in a Castle Lager Premiership match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Dube punched the ball from Charlton Siamalonga’s cross straight onto the head of Matema and into the net.
Siamalonga had a great debut for Highlanders, as he filled in the left-back position left by Honest Moyo, who is on Warriors’ duty at the Cosafa Castle Cup in South Africa and the suspended Benson Phiri.
Bosso went into yesterday’s match an improved side compared to the side that played to a goalless draw against How Mine at the same venue a week ago.
The Bulawayo giants were in control of the game from the onset, but horrendous finishing by their frontline denied them a possible goal harvest against a Yadah outfit that looked dangerous on a few occasions that they ventured forward.
Highlanders’ striker Nhlanhla Ndlovu, starting for the first time this season, was guilty of fluffing two glorious opportunities in the first half.
Ndlovu unbelievably shot over the bar when he decided to go for power instead of placing the ball past a drawn-out Dube in the fourth minute after being set up by Matema in a quick counterattack.
The striker again did injustice to a beautiful build-up, involving Godfrey Makaruse, King Nadolo and Matema, by placing the ball wide with yawning net at his mercy in the 21st minute.
Overlapping Highlanders’ defender Tendai Ndlovu beat the offside trap to meet a Nadolo pass, but shot weakly at goal.
Nadolo lost his marker in the box in the 42nd minute to collect a Matema cross, but the midfielder headed way off target, with Dube stranded.
Yadah rarely troubled Bosso goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda in the first half as the home team were compact in defence.
The second half resumed with Yadah playing more purposeful soccer and trying to take the game to Highlanders.
The visitors breached Highlanders’ defence in the 54th minute but striker Moses Demera shot over the bar with only Sibanda to beat.
Highlanders coach Erol Akbay decided to spare Ndlovu his misery by bringing in Rodreck Mutuma in the 57th minute.
Mutuma dropped into the midfield, helping the quartet of Erick Mudzingwa, Rahman Kutsanzira, Nadolo and Makaruse.
Then came the crazy moment by seasoned goalkeeper Dube, who punched a seemingly harmless Siamalonga cross right onto Matema’s head in the 65th minute resulting in the Highlanders’ goal.
Yadah regrouped and went on the hunt for the equaliser led by Brian Mapfumo, arguably their best player yesterday. Strikers Demera and Munyaradzi Chivasa were completely shut out by the Highlanders’ backline. Yadah were lucky not to concede two late goals when they were caught on counterattack in the 84th minute when Kutsanzira decided to go for glory instead of laying the ball to a better positioned Matema.
A minute later, Kutsanzira set up Mutuma, but the lanky striker skied his effort over the bar from inside the six-yard box with only Dube to beat.
Akbay bemoaned his strikers’ impotence in front of goal.
“I really don’t know what goes on in my strikers’ minds because we created so many chances that we failed to score. Yadah also made it difficult for us to play, as they were compact,” Akbay said.
Yadah coach Jairos Tapera said: “I think we played well and we were just unfortunate to concede at that stage.”
Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Charlton Siamalonga, Bukhosi Ncube, Peter Muduhwa, Tendai Ndlovu, Erick Mudzingwa, Rahman Kutsanzira, Godfrey Makaruse, King Nadolo, Nhlanhla Ndlovu (Rodreck Mutuma, 57th minute), Ralph Matema (Tambwe Kalunga, 86th minute)
Yadah FC: Tafadzwa Dube, Munyaradzi Diro-Nyenye, Willard Kalongoda, Jimmy Dzingai, Reggis Dongo, Brian Mapfumo, Enock Karembo, Paulo Borges (Leeroy Murape, 73rd minute), Denzel Savanhu, Munyaradzi Chivara, Moses Demera
Friday: Dynamos 2-0 Bantu Rovers
Saturday: Tsholotsho FC 2-2 Triangle United, Ngezi Platinum 2-1 FC Platinum, Chapungu 2-0 Chicken Inn, ZPC Kariba 1-1 Black Rhinos
Yesterday: Highlanders 1-0 Yadah FC, Shabanie Mine 1-0 How Mine, Harare City 1-1 Hwange, Bulawayo City v Caps United (postponed). The Chronicle