CHICKEN INN’S purple patch continued yesterday as the Gamecox beat Shabanie Mine 2-1 in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match played at Maglas Stadium yesterday.
REPORT BY EPHRAIM SHOKO
Shabanie Mine . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1)1
Chicken Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (1)2
The Bulawayo side, who finished the match with 10 men after Thabani Goredema — a 67th minute substitute — was sent off in the 84th minute for a second bookable offence, are now joint log leaders with Highlanders who lost to Caps United on Saturday. Both have 29 points, but the former champions have scored more goals.
Goredema had missed last Wednesday’s 1-0 win over Highlanders due to suspension and now returns to the terraces for another spell.
Shabanie Mine were the first to take the lead in the ninth minute courtesy of a penalty by Pevington Zimunya after Tarisai Rukanda had been brought down in the box by Chicken Inn goalkeeper Njabulo Nyoni.
The visitors, however, cancelled the lead seven minutes later through leading scorer Tendai Ndoro before Cannan Nkomo sealed the three points and second spot in the 66th minute.
Shabanie coach Luke Masomere conceded defeat and blamed the loss on lack of precision in front of goal.
“I think we played well, but we failed to capitalise on the numerous chances that we created in the first half. I might also concede that Chicken Inn played well and took their chances which made the difference at the end of the day,” Masomere said in his post match interview.
His Chicken Inn counterpart Mandla Mpofu was ecstatic after the match and praised his players for a spirited performance.
“We knew it was always going to be a difficult game against Shabanie, but we stuck to our game plan and did not panic despite having conceded in the first 10 minutes of the game. I am happy the boys showed character and managed to come back into the game to get the three points,” Mpofu said.
The hosts started the match brightly and were first off the blocks with Rukanda asking a lot of questions of the visitors’ rearguard. Rukanda’s pressure paid off in the eighth minute when he received the ball at the edge of the box and turned his marker inside out, but was hacked down by Nyoni.
Referee Munyaradzi Majoni pointed to the spot and Zimunya converted, sending Nyoni the wrong way.
Rukanda almost made it two for Shabanie in the 12th minute when he broke loose on the left, but his stinger from outside the box struck the upright with Nyoni a beaten man.
It was, however, Chicken Inn who found the equaliser four minutes later when Ndoro was set up by Marshall Marima to slot home from inside the box for his 10th goal of the season.
After the breather both teams struggled for rhythm and the match turned into a big yawn with the only talking point being Nkomo’s 66th minute winner.
Nkomo found himself unmarked inside the Shabanie box after being set up by Ndoro, to easily slot past the hosts goalkeeper Victor Twaliki. After Chicken Inn’s second goal, Masomere tried to add some urgency into his team, pulling out Zimunya for Mlungisi Ndlovu in the 78th minute.
As Masomere was slowly getting his cards correct, striker Caleb Masocha was then taken out for defender Smart Muchabaiwa and that all but killed his chances of getting an equaliser as the Chicken Inn defence, led by Felix Chindungwe, held firm.