A brace by striker Njabulo “Tshiki” Ncube inspired Highlanders to close the gap on the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League leaders Dynamos to just one point after edging FC Platinum in a match played at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
By Sukoluhle Mthethwa
With Dynamos losing 4-2 to Hwange at the Colliery yesterday, Highlanders moved to second spot with 40 points from 22 games while Dynamos remained on top with 41 points from the same number of games.
Highlanders are now at par on 40 points with Harare City whom they displaced by goal difference after the Sunshine City Boys were held to a 1-1 draw by Shabanie Mine in Harare yesterday.
Platinum dropped to fifth spot following the loss, the third defeat in a row inside two weeks after losing the BancABC Sup8r Cup to Shabanie Mine and marching out of the first round of the Mbada Diamonds Cup with a loss to Hwange at the Colliery on Sunday.
Njabulo scored in the 20th minute and 55th minute with Bosso conceding in added time when Mitchelle Katsvairo shot past goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya.
Despite the win that put the race for the championship wide open, Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu was not happy with the performance of his team.
“We did not play our normal game. We scored two goals, but conceded the second goal out of nothing. We lacked concentration towards the end of the game,” he said.
FC Platinum coach Lloyd Mutasa was a disappointed man.
“We paid dearly because we played well in the first stages of the game. We had about five chances and could have avoided the goals we conceded. Our conversion rate is not good enough. We are looking forward to our next game, but we have to sharpen our attack ,” he said.
FC Platinum, who had the upper hand in the first 20 minutes, could have taken the lead in the 10th minute, but a timely sliding tackle by Highlanders defender Dumisani Ndlovu on striker Donald Ngoma averted danger.
Bosso went ahead 10 minutes later when Platinum captain Daniel Veremu fumbled on a clearance from a Lawson Nkomo cross and made Njabulo’s task easier as he chipped the ball past advancing Francis Tizayi.
Highlanders piled pressure on Platinum and Gabriel Nyoni could have added the second had he not dilly-dallied with the ball after getting a good pass from Njabulo in the penalty box.
Katsvairo missed a glorious chance to level the scores when he shot wide from inside the box in the 25th minute with only Highlanders goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya to beat.
The hosts continued to search for another goal in the second half with Veremu being given a torrid time by Nyoni.
Njabulo then grabbed his second seven minutes after the break after leftback Erick Mudzingwa flighted a good cross that the striker controlled well before slotting the ball in with ease.
Highlanders missed another chance when Mthulisi Maphosa’s stinger went wide in the 65th minute while Nkomo’s ferocious strike from a dead ball situation in the 75th minute was tipped over by Tizayi.
Second half substitute Obrey Chirwa could have pulled one back for FC Platinum in the 88th minute, but he failed to connect a Donald Ngoma cross.