Paul Mundandi in Zvishavane
FC Platinum ……………………….0
Motor Action ……………………..0
The Castle Lager Premiership top-of-the-table clash between leaders Motor Action and FC Platinum produced a stalemate in a thriller that had everything but a goal at Mandava yesterday.
Both teams will feel they dropped two points in this match, with the gap between them and the chasing pack having been narrowed once more, but the Mighty Bulls will feel pleased with taking a big point away from home.
The home side have now picked up just two out of nine points from their last three matches. Both teams started the match cautiously in a game that was very tactical and attracted a full house of an estimated 6 000 fans.
The home team were the first to settle and could have gone into the lead as early as the 9th minute through Donald Ngoma but he saw his effort cleared off the line by defender Godfrey Moyo with goalkeeper Marlon Jani a beaten man.
Motor Action had to wait until the 36th minute to fashion their first chance of their day through midfielder Allan Gahadzikwa but his shot, from outside the box, was tipped for a corner by the impressive Tafadzwa Dube. Ntokozo Tshuma, who had rather a quiet game by his standards, was presented with a good opportunity to break the deadlock but he failed to beat Jani.
The striker, who was recalled from his loan spell at Zimbabwe Saints, got to the end of a move involving Zephaniah Ngodzo and Ngoma but Jani was on hand to make the save, punching Tshuma’s effort into play. The ball fell to skipper Ngodzo who passed responsibility to Ngoma but the striker skied his effort from inside the box when it looked easier to score than miss in the 45th minute.
The Bulls then created a chance in the 53rd minute when Enasio Perezo won the ball deep in the hosts’ half and centred for Isaac Masame, who had a brilliant game, but his effort from the left was punched out for a corner by Dube. The introduction of Zimbabwe international winger Benjamin Marere breathed life into the platinum miners and the speedy forward proved a thorn in the flesh of the visitors.
A throw in on the right, taken by Kumbulani Banda, escaped the Mighty Bulls defence and Ngoma headed goalwards but the imposing frame of Jani was on hand to make the decisive save in the 63rd minute. With exactly 10 minutes left in regulation time, there was a big chance for the hosts when Norman Maroto got possession in the Bulls half and threaded a pass to Joel Ngodzo.
With the former Gunners’ hitman anticipating a return pass, as he was not marked and in a better position, Ngodzo decided to go for the kill and blasted the ball over the bar. FC Platinum came into the match on a two game winless run after playing two games in four days in the City of Kings where they drew with Zimbabwe Saints before suffering a 0-1 defeat at the hands of Highlanders.
That marked coach Rahman Gumbo’s first defeat in the Premiership since joining the Zvishavane side. FC Platinum, for the first time this season, also failed to score in 180 minutes of action although they are the second highest scoring team in the league with 29 goals. Only CAPS United have scored more goals.
The Bulls came into the match on a high after a 1-0 win over Bosso. It was clear, throughout the match, that the champions are a very organised side and that’s the reason why they have only conceded 10 goals all season. Motor Action have now taken four points from their meetings with FC Platinum, having won the first game 2-1 at Callies on Africa Day.
Gumbo was also facing his former side and, in his team, he also fielded Charles Sibanda and Bekhimpilo Ncube who played a huge part in powering the Mighty Bulls to success in the championship race last season. After the match, coach Joey Antipas was a happy man.
“It was a typical top-of-the-table clash. Both teams deserved a draw as chances were minimal. A point away is very good,” he said.
His counterpart Gumbo also believed a draw was a fair result.
“The game was very tight. It was very tactical and a draw was the fairest result,” he said.
“Both teams gave a good account of themselves. My boys are feeling the pressure of being on top but it will come to pass.”
Eric Rosen, the Harare businessman who turned Motor Action into champions last season, said his team will battle hard to retain their crown.
“We wanted three points but I am happy that we collected four points against them,” said Rosen.
“We are still fighting for the championship and we will continue to fight.”
T. Dube, K. Banda, Z. Ngodzo, D. Veremu, B. Ncube(B. Marere 46th min),J. Ngodzo, N. Tshuma (N. Maroto 56th min), I. Gwandu, C. Sibanda(M. Mupera 74th min),
M. Jani, A. Gahadzikwa, E. Perezo (E. Chitato 66th min), R. Machaya, P. Benard, I. Masame, K. Musharu, O. Mushure, G. Moyo, A. Gahadzikwa, T. Nyamandwe (G. Phiri 83rd min),C. Whitby(M. Mambare 70th min).