MUTARE CITY . . . . . (0) 1 HIGHLANDERS . . . . . . . 0
RELEGATION-threatened Mutare City enhanced their chances of survival after pulling off a huge upset to beat Highlanders in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Vengere Stadium in Rusape yesterday.
BY HENRY MHARA IN RUSAPE
Second-half substitute Evans Chikwaikwai tapped in from close range on the rebound after goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda had spilled Brian Chinhoyi’s shot.
Chinhoyi looked to be in an offside position when he received the ball, but the referee allowed play to continue, resulting in the goal that infuriated Bosso coach Madinda Ndlovu.
The gaffer lambasted the match officials on the way they handled the match.
City coach Matsika Ndega, on the other hand, was pleased with the way his team managed to absorb the pressure before hitting their opponent with the killer sucker punch.
While there was some justification for Ndlovu to be infuriated at the handling of the match, he probably should be more disappointed with his strikers, who fluffed good chances that could have seen Bosso win comfortably.
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Had Gabriel Nyoni and Sibanda converted from one-on-one situations, all the post-match drama could have easily been avoided.
Vengere has proved to be a difficult place to visit for top-flight teams, especially for a team like Highlanders, who like to play the ball on the ground.
Ndlovu knew this before he arrived in Rusape, but tried to stick to his philosophy.
The home side were determined to disrupt this and make life difficult for the visitors.
Bosso had to be patient and try to make the most of the few chances that came their way.
Ndlovu was more disappointed when Nyoni ran clear after a mistake by a defender, but the striker shot over the bar.
City rarely threatened in the first half, with their only threats coming from set pieces, which they either wasted or found goalkeeper Sibanda unyielding.
Bosso had bossed play in the first half, but rarely tasted the hosts’ goalkeeper Alfred Chiname.
It took Chiname 47 minutes to make a decent save when he came flying off his line to block Sibanda, who was clear on goal.
From the resultant corner kick, Newman Sianchali’s goal-bound shot in a crowded box was cleared off the line.
Highlanders had started the second half well, but a goal remained elusive.
Given the way Ndlovu’s men missed chances, and how City stoutly defended their goal, a draw looked to be a fair result.
The home side had other ideas though.
A long clearance from the deep found Chinhoyi, who appeared to be in an offside position, but with the flag down, the striker continued with his run and shot straight at Sibanda.
The rebound fell nicely for Chikwaikwai who tapped home to torch wild celebrations.
Meanwhile, the Highlanders players mobbed the linesman in protest, but their appeals fell on deaf ears.