A PULSATING first half which produced a goal from either side characterised the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match between Highlanders and FC Platinum at Barbourfields Stadium (BF) yesterday.
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
FC Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . (1) 1
Despite playing second fiddle to FC Platinum’s clinical play, Highlanders remained at the top of the log standings with 20 points after salvaging a point from the visitors while the Zvishavane-based platinum miners dropped just one rung to position 10 after playing their fourth draw of the season.
FC Platinum drew first blood in the 26th minute through forceful Donald Ngoma who beat advancing Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda after he was sent through by Allen Gahadzikwa after beating an off-side trap.
The platinum miners’ goal was always coming as they troubled Highlanders enjoying free play in the middle of the park with skipper Thabani Kamusoko, Gahadzikwa, Stephen Sibanda, Ngoma and the skilful Marshall Mudehwe giving Bosso right-back Simon Munawa a difficult time for the entire 90 minutes.
Highlanders then replied five minutes before the break through a header by Charles Sibanda from a Munawa set-piece after Kuda Mahachi, who fought a lone battle for Bosso, was brought down by Platinum left-back Qadr Amini.
Munawa sent in a cross and FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari could have done well to cut in for the ball, but an unmarked Sibanda beat him with a header to give Highlanders the equaliser.
Bosso head coach Kelvin Kaindu reckoned it was a balanced affair, but admitted his side was exposed on Munawa’s flank. He was happy with the point and remaining at the top.
“We failed to pick up maximum points but I think it was a 50-50 affair. We were exposed mainly on our right, but Munawa picked up his game in the second half. We still remain unbeaten, but unfortunately we failed to get a win at home. A point is, however, better than not getting anything at all,” Kaindu said.
His counterpart Lloyd Mutasa said a draw was a fair result, but said his charges failed to utilise a number of chances they created.
“The game was okay. Both teams gave their all and I think a draw was the fairest result. We failed to utilise the chances that came our way. Highlanders began to take charge of the game in the middle of the park and we had to introduce (Aaron) Katebe to try and stabilise the midfield in the second half. Taking a point at BF is a step in the right direction,” Mutasa said.
But it was the introduction of Katebe for the roving Stephen Sibanda that appeared to spoil FC Platinum’s movement in the centre as they had dominated and knocked the ball at will in the first half.
They could have used the pace of Mudehwe and Mitchelle Katsvairo to bury Highlanders who were weak on positional play and had midfielders failing on recovery.
FC Platinum could have scored five minutes into the game, but Ngoma’s strike from another Gahadzikwa pass was saved by Ariel.
Ariel came to Bosso’s rescue six minutes later, safely collecting another shot from Mudehwe inside the box.
Highlanders’ Knox Mutizwa shot wide in the 23rd minute from a Mahachi cross after a build-up that involved Charles.
An overlapping Bruce Kangwa had his effort saved by Mhari, a minute before the end of the first half.
Highlanders: A Sibanda, S Munawa, B Kangwa, D Ndlovu, I Mapuranga, E Mudzingwa, K Mutizwa (C Dube 81st minute), C Sibanda, O Zibande (W Ndiweni 74th minute), M Ncube (G Nyoni 64th minute), K Mahachi
FC platinum: P Mhari, S Shoko, Q Amini, J Marufu, G Bello, T Kamusoko, M Katsvairo (W Musona 77th minute), S Sibanda (A Katebe 53rd minute), D Ngoma, A Gahadzikwa (O Chirwa 83rd minute), M Mudehwe.