By Tadious Manyepo
Caps United were the biggest winners of a bumper midweek Castle Lager Premiership programme as the Green Machine went three points clear of the chasing pack at the top of the table.
Their main rivals, overnight leaders Chicken Inn, champions FC Platinum and dark horses ZPC Kariba, all dropped points yesterday.
The Gamecocks crashed to a 0-2 derby defeat at the hands of a resurgent Highlanders, with Prince Dube scoring for the fourth straight game, while Brian Banda grabbed the other goal.
FC Platinum were frustrated at home in a goalless draw against TelOne at Mandava, while ZPC Kariba crashed to a 0-1 defeat at Ngezi Platinum Stars whose new coach, Rodwell Dhlakama, has won his first two games in charge.
Makepekepe coach Darlington Dodo praised his men’s never-say-die spirit as they rallied from behind to grab a last-gasp winner at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
After having fallen behind to a penalty converted by Timothy January, the spot kick given despite a clear offside in the build-up to the Triangle attack, CAPS United refused to throw in the towel.
And Dodo’s master-stroke, bringing in the excellent Ronald ‘’Rooney’’ Chitiyo and the lively Kelvin Ndebele after the break, turned the game on its head.
Man-of-the-match Chitiyo headed home the equaliser before giant defender Godwin Goriyati slid home the late, late winner.
“Good win, good game but I think we had some grey areas, especially in the first-half where I think we didn’t apply ourselves very well,’’ said Dodo.
‘’But, I should repeat this, what inspires me more from these boys is their spirit and attitude, the desire.
‘’You can tell from their faces, even at half-time, that they are prepared to work. The reaction after that penalty was master-class.
“The introduction of Chitiyo and Ndebele into the game brought some life. Now that we are out of Chibuku Super Cup, disappointingly, we will focus more on the league.”
The first-half was as bad as any league game, at this level, could get.
Now, and again, the balls were switched from defence to attack, bypassing the midfield, in the hope that a lucky bounce could give either side an advantage.
It was Triangle, though, who opened the scoring, with match officials shockingly allowing play to go on even when it was clear the last Triangle player was miles offside.
And, after a rash tackle in the box, referee Munyaradzi Majoni pointed to the spot after adjudging January had been brought down inside the box.
A fair call but things shouldn’t have reached that far because even an amateur referee would have seen January had strayed offside by a country mile.
The Triangle forward stepped up and coolly slotted home.
But Chitiyo made a mockery of his small frame to out-jump his marker and head home a perfect ball swung into the box by Phineas Bamusi.
And, with just a minute of regulation time left, Goriyati popped up at the other end to score the winner.
Triangle coach Taurai Mangwiro said he was disappointed with the result.
“Congratulations to CAPS United for the win. They kept on piling incessant pressure,’’ he said.
‘’They never gave up after we had taken the lead. Our failure to hold on to the lead was the most deciding factor in the game.
‘’Our lead lasted for just some few minutes. I thought we had a chance to sneak in a goal or two but, unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.
‘’At the end of the day, we dropped the points for the fourth (Premiership) game running.
“Participation in the African Safari has impacted on us negatively as we have the same personnel doing duty for us on both fronts.
‘’We played in Bulawayo on Saturday (against Azam) and we had to travel back to Triangle and we were then on the road to Harare while CAPS United were here. You could see that our players were weary in the final moments.’’
There was even more reason for the Green Machine fans to celebrate when news filtered through that their bitter rivals Dynamos had been held to a draw by Yadah at Rufaro.
And, more importantly, FC Platinum had been held at Mandava and Chicken Inn had lost to Highlanders at Barbourfields.
Highlanders’ new Dutch coach, Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh, has now seen the team win three straight matches since he came on board.
“I think it was a good game. A game of two phases, playing against a good team, in the first half it 50/50,’’ he said.
‘’During the break I told the players to be aggressive and they did that in the second half.’’
CAPS United: P. Chigumba, V. Musarurwa, G. Goriyati, M. Mwanjale, C. Rusere, K. Nyamupfukudza, J. Ngodzo (B. Sarupinda 90th min) P. Bamusi, C. Rupiya (K. Ndebele 46th min), D. Chungwa, N. Sianchali (R. Chitiyo 61st min)
Triangle: R. Mudimu, T. Mugoniwa, A. Chivheya, D. Dzvinyai, R. Kawondera, T. Mavhunga, D. Mudadi, G. Bero, A. Tavarwisa (N. Chintuli 79th min) , C. Dhuwa T. January. The Herald