Highlanders . . . (0) 2
Chicken Inn . . . (3) 3
CHICKEN INN are not just going to surrender the title race that easily and yesterday, they showed that they could still mount a real challenge on the leading pack when they produced a stellar performance to dismantle city rivals Highlanders in a five-goal thriller at Barbourfields Stadium.
BY SAKHELENI NXUMALO
A brilliant first half attacking display saw Chicken Inn threatening to tear apart Bosso, with goals by King Nasama, Moses Jackson and Obriel Chirinda giving them a comfortable lead into the half-time break.
They would slow down the tempo in the second half and allowed Highlanders to mount a recovery, but goals by Adrian Silla and Gabriel on the other side of the break proved too little to spoil the Chicken Inn party.
Joey Antipas’ men could have been four clear before the breather, but Nasama was denied his brace by the woodwork, as the visitors looked to run away with the game.
They remain third on the log standings with 44 points, eight behind log leaders FC Platinum and seven adrift of second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars.
Antipas admitted that his team had struggled in the second half of the game, but said both teams had given the fans full value for their money.
“We had a storming first half, but it was a game of two halves, where we endured some tense moments towards the end, but it was good to hold on for a win and all in all I can say it was a top game from both sides,” he said.
His Highlanders counterpart Madinda Ndlovu paid tribute to his charges for their ability to up their game in the second half, but said he felt let down by his senior players.
“I think what we have to acknowledge is the good performance by our opponents who showed great hunger and desire and our game plan was dismantled by their early goal. Today, we were let down by some of the senior players whom I expect to take a leading role, but at the end of the day, I am happy that we managed to put up a brilliant second half display that consoled our fans,” Ndlovu said.
Highlanders paid the price for their failure to control the midfield in the entire first half, with Patrick Musaka failing to stamp his authority in the anchorman’s role.
The lack of a protective shield left the hosts’ central defence at the mercy of the visitors, who gladly took advantage and raced to an early lead through Nasama, who roasted McClive Phiri before firing past Ariel Sibanda in the Bosso goal two minutes into the match.
Sibanda would again pick the ball from the nets on 32nd minute when Jackson rose above the Highlanders defence to powerfully head home a George Majika corner kick that had been won by the impressive Chirinda.
Former Bantu Rovers striker Chirinda then registered his name on the score sheet on 42 minutes after a solo run that saw him dancing past the Bosso central defence before drilling the ball past an exposed Sibanda.
Musaka’s substitution by the Highlanders technical team six minutes into the second half immediately swung the pendulum in the hosts’ favour, as Silla then took up the holding midfield role and started dictating the pace in the middle of the park.
Silla went on to reduce the arrears for Bosso from the penalty spot on the hour mark after a goal-bound Newman Sianchali was brought down by Chicken Inn keeper Pride Zendera.
The dreadlocked Silla was later denied a brace by Zendera when the Gamecocks keeper pushed his long range stinger out for a corner.
The Gamecocks went on to endure a nervy finish after Nyoni headed home a cross from the right flank on 73 minutes.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, M Phiri, H Moyo, C Siamalonga, P Muduhwa, B Musaka (B Banda, 51), A Silla, G Nyoni, N Makumbe, T Sibanda, N Sianchali
Chicken Inn: P Zendera, P Bernard, B Nyahunzvi, M Jackson, L Sithole, I Mucheneka, S Munawa, G Majika, C Matawu (J Nyabinde, 87), O Chirinda, K Nasama (O Tarumbwa, 81).