Ronald ‘’Rooney’’ Chitiyo made the difference with a bullet header to propel Caps United to victory over stubborn newboys Mushowani Stars in a see-saw Castle Lager Premiership encounter at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
The diminutive midfielder, who returned from injury recently, settled the matters with a 79th minute header after Mushowani’s star forward Evans Katema had put the visitors in strong contention with a first half brace.
The Green Machine needed a quick response, after losing for the first time this season in the defeat to Chapungu last week, but they found themselves trailing 1-2 with the clock winding towards the half-time break.
But second half substitute Chitiyo’s emphatic header and first half strikes from defender Godwin Goriyati and Dominic Chungwa still helped them bounce back to the top of the table with 19 points from eight starts.
Caps United coach Lloyd Chitembwe, although not satisfied by his team’s overall performance, praised his charges for their fighting spirit.
“It’s quite refreshing, we gladly accept the result and take it home. But, in terms of performance, we were not at our best.
“We were slightly off colour and probably the main reason was down to having played a very gruelling game (against Chapungu) on Thursday.
“But at the end of the day there is no coach who can complain after a victory. So I am very happy,” said Chitembwe.
Makepekepe raced into an early lead after speedy winger Gabriel Nyoni, a constant threat on the wings, had won a free-kick on the right flank.
Mushowani goalkeeper Hamilton Makainganwa literally gifted the Green Machine when he failed to handle the ball clean from Musarurwa’s free kick.
Goriyati had no trouble rolling it over the line with only five minutes played.
However, the lead lasted barely two minutes.
Mushowani got a penalty straight from the restart when adventurous forward Katema was adjudged to have been impeded inside the box before beating the goalkeeper Chris Mverechena from the spot.
Makepekepe could have regained their lead midway through the first half but Chungwa couldn’t control a free header at the back post from a fine cross by Musarurwa.
The hosts still controlled the game but they defenders were caught napping in the 33rd minute and duly punished when Katema headed home his second, unattended, from a cross by Kumbirai Kapikinyu to give Mushowani a 2-1 lead.
Chungwa, who had earlier missed a free header, made the amends when goalkeeper Makainganwa made another grave blunder after spilling a cross from workaholic winger Phineas Bamusi.
The burly forward collected the ball and buried the chance.
However, his strike partner John Zhuwawu, who has been enduring poor form, continued with his bad patch when he missed an open goal in the 67th minute after miscuing a square pass from Bamusi.
Mushowani had more chances with their counter attack play.
However, Chitiyo, who was making his third substitute appearance after he was introduced in the 47th minute, handed Caps United maximum points with an emphatic header from a perfect cross by Bhamusi with 11 minutes remaining.
Mushowani coach, Newman Mashipe, was disappointed by his team’s failure to utilise their numerous chances.
“I am very disappointed indeed. The boys did everything but it was in front of goal, the final pass, I think, we should have scored two goals more but it wasn’t our day.
“I think we gifted them two clear goals from the goalkeeper’s blunders, which I think is another area that we need to work on,” said Mashipe.
Caps Utd: C. Mverechena, V. Musarurwa, S. Masunda (R. Chitiyo, 47th minute), M. Mwanjale, G. Goriyati, B. Sarupinda, P. Bhamusi, J. Ngodzo (K. Nyamupfukudza, 59th min), G. Nyoni, J. Zhuwawu (N. Sianchali, 77th min), D. Chungwa
Mushowani: H. Makainganwa, E. Mafirenyika, M. Doley, W. Tafa, C. Dzingayi, S. Savari, K. Kapikinyu, T. Mutandi (J. Tulani, 59th min), C. Zimondi (E. Dhala, 76th min), C. Muvuti, E. Katema. The Chronicle