TWO red cards and misfiring strikers are all that was exhibited as Highlanders’ lead at the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League was cut down to a single point after a goalless draw against Bantu Rovers at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
Bantu Rovers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
Highlanders . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
Bantu Rovers coach Methembe Ndlovu was sent off in the 31st minute by referee Bekezela Makeka for remonstrating with match officials while defender Hebert Dick also saw red in the 90th minute.
Bosso have 31 points from 16 games while Dynamos are third with 30 points from the same number of games after the Harare giants beat Caps United 2-1 at the National Sports Stadium yesterday. ZPC Kariba have 30 points from 16 games, but are second because of a superior goal difference.
Bantu Rovers remained on position 15 with 15 points from 16 games.
Ndlovu was content with a draw after they lost 2-4 to Highlanders on week 15.
“I think the starting point in the second half of the season is to learn from our mistakes from the first half. At least we picked up a point, so we are happy. Half chances don’t count. The players applied themselves well. We are happy with the number of opportunities we created. It’s a pity we didn’t put them away,” he said.
“We don’t want to disrespect the other team. The result is what it is. We gave it our best. It is tough to do these interviews because if I am honest I will be fined. The boys played well. It is unfortunate that we could not grind a result. On my sending off, maybe ask the match officials because I am also flabbergasted.”
Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu said they failed to utilise chances that came their way.
“We had planned that we should get maximum points, but I think the game was a 50/50 affair. Although I think today (yesterday) in terms of application we looked much better and probably for the most part of the game. We created chances where we could have scored. We had more chances in the first half because we were stronger. We thought we could have gone into the second half leading, but unfortunately we didn’t get a goal,” he said.
Highlanders could have gone one up six minutes into the game, but Charles Sibanda’s effort was saved by Bantu Rovers goalkeeper Takunda Mutanga.
The goalkeeper was kept busy in the early stages of the match as he saved a shot from Ozias Zibande after receiving a through ball from Valentine Ndaba five minutes later.
Proud Zireni was unlucky in the 18th minute as his shot went across the face of goal with no takers from Bantu.
Bosso had yet another chance when Mthulisi Maphosa’s shot was punched back into play by Mutanga before the ball fell on Zibande who shot overbar.
Makeka ignored Bantu Rovers’ call for a penalty when Dumisani “Fazo” Ndlovu brought down Moses Majika in the 27th minute, which infuriated coach Ndlovu.
A minute later Bukhosi Sibanda tried to chip in the ball, but his effort went straight to Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
After the breather Bantu Rovers brought in new acquisition Dalubuhle Moraka who had been playing for a developmental side in the United Kingdom.
Moraka’s introduction seemed to unsettle Highlanders as the new player got a chance to score on his debut.
Majika’s ball found Moraka who hit the upright post before Bukhosi rolled the ball on the path of captain Nqobizitha Masuku who blazed his effort over in the 61st minute.
Bosso seemed to be losing the battle in the midfield, but the introduction of Welcome Ndiweni stabilised the team.
Veteran defender Dick was then sent off when he remonstrated with the referee after he had been booked for a foul on Ndlovu in the 90th minute while Moraka’s other effort went wide as Bantu Rovers held on to the draw in the dying seconds of the game.
At the Colliery Stadium, Hwange beat Harare City 2-0 via goals from David Boriwondo and Nkosana Siwela.
Bantu Rovers: T Mutanga, P Zireni, Z Ngodzo, T Hadebe, H Dick redcard 90th minute, B Sikwila, N Masuku, T Kutinyu, S Dube (Dalubuhle Moraka 46th minute), M Majika, B Sibanda
Highlanders: A Sibanda, E Mudzingwa, B Kangwa, I Mapuranga, D Ndlovu, F Chindungwe, K Mutizwa ( G Makaruse (67th minute), V Ndaba ( W Ndiweni 57th minute), M Maphosa, C Sibanda, O Zibande (C Dube 67th minute)