By Eddie Chikamhi
KELVIN NDEBELE scored a contender for the Goal of the Season while the resurgent Ronald ‘’Rooney’’ Chitiyo provided a moment to remember as CAPS United went back five points clear of the chasing pack.
On a beautiful sunny day, there was a marked increase in the number of fans in the stands, most of them wearing the green-and-white colours of the hosts.
And, it’s likely, they all got fair value for making the trip to watch this Castle Lager Premiership match.
This was the Green Machine, showing, in more ways than one, that they have slipped into the mood of becoming champions this year.
There was so much to watch, so much to admire and, when you play well, the fans respond.
They have won four matches on the trot and lead FC Platinum by five points while Chicken Inn are now a distant seven points behind.
With their main rivals having played on Saturday, FC Platinum beating Yadah 3-1 and Chicken Inn being held by Black Rhinos, the challenge was thrown at the Green Machine.
And, boy oh boy, they responded well.
Highlanders also won yesterday, defeating TelOne 2-0 at Barbourfields with Brian Banda (86th minute) and Prince Dube (penalty, 88th minute) doing the damage.
Bulawayo Chiefs surprised Triangle 2-0 while Manica Diamonds inflicted more pain on the championship aspirations of ZPC Kariba with a 1-0 win at Vengere.
Herentals held Chapungu to a 1-1 draw at Ascot.
But all eyes were at the giant stadium and the Green Machine didn’t collapse under the weight of expectation.
Joel Ngodzo (penalty), Ndebele and an own goal by Hwange defender Felix Chindungwe powered them to a victory which, if they had converted their chances, could have produced a bigger winning margin. The veteran defender turned the ball into his own goal in a desperate attempt to clear the lines following some fine work from Chitiyo who twice twisted and turned his markers.
Things had looked different when Ernest Gwitima gave the visitors a fighting chance with his 42nd minute strike that ensured the two teams went to the break tied 1-1.
Makepekepe lost three players, including inspirational captain Method Mwanjali, to injuries but they found a way to win.
Mwanjali was stretchered off in the 24th minute and he was followed by Ndebele and John Zhuwawu, who had been introduced as a second half substitute.
“Pressure was mounting on them but I think they are managing very well and they are doing what they are supposed to be doing on the pitch,’’ said coach Darlington Dodo.
‘’So I give credit to the players.
“There is team spirit, there is togetherness, there is harmony and when you have those things God will always allow the situation to prevail. God is smiling on us, which is good for the team.’’
Hwange coach Nation Dube, whose side has not won in the last 12 outings, felt they conceded soft goals.
“We gifted them some goals but some of the goals I can say (they were questionable).
‘’Firstly, the penalty, I don’t think it was a penalty. It drew us back but we came back strongly and thereafter the game was punctuated by a lot of questionable decisions.
“I don’t want to say much about the other team but we played a good team. But we fought up to the final whistle.” said Dube. Ngodzo converted from the penalty spot seven minutes into the game for his 10th goal of the season after Phineas Bamusi was fouled inside the box by Munyaradzi Mungadze.
Makepekepe entertained their supporters with sleek passing game but they were jolted when Mwanjali was stretchered off the pitch injured after 24 minutes.
The veteran defender appeared in serious pain and was later taken to hospital.
But Gwitima brought Hwange level in the 26th minute with a powerfully struck grounder into the bottom corner.
Makepekepe regained the lead shortly before the breather when Ndebele’s beauty from the right flank deceived goalkeeper Taimon Mvula and found its way into the nets via the upright.
Chitiyo then beat two markers in a display of some fine skills before unleashing a powerful grounder which Chindungwe guided into the nets.
“That boy is coming back now. It’s a marvel to see him doing what he knows best and he is a thorn in the flesh, especially in the last third,’’ said Dodo.
‘’If you give him space, you will be dead.’’
CAPS Utd: T. Mateyaunga, V. Musarurwa, C. Rusere, G. Goriyati, M. Mwanjali (L. Zvasiya, 25th min), D. Mukandi, P. Bhamusi, J. Ngodzo, R. Chitiyo, K. Ndebele (J. Zhuwawu, 60th min; B, Sarupinda, 89th min), D. Chungwa.
Hwange: T. Mvula. K. Matake, W. Munorwei (K. Chimbadzwa, 46th min), M. Mungadze (G. Zulu, 79th min), F. Chindungwe, G. Ndlovu, N. Chinyerere, N. Gama (L. Vundla, 68th min), A. Banda, S. Gadzikwa, E. Gwitima. The Herald