Lady luck smiled at Highlanders FC as they survived a How Mine FC onslaught to snatch a point in a Castle Lager League match at Barbourfields yesterday.
Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda was a stumbling block for How Mine, making a number of point blank saves to keep the fading Bulawayo giants in the game.
After Timothy January had given How Mine an early lead, Highlanders needed a controversial penalty late on to force a share of the spoils when Knox Mutizwa converted from the spot.
The miners were always deadly on the offensive with the attacking quartet of Kuda Musharu, January, Limited Chikafa and Benjamin Marere proving hard to contain with their pace and skill.
Four minutes into the game, Sibanda denied Musharu from close range after the striker had been cleverly set up by Chikafa following a beautiful build-up involving January and skipper Menard Mupera.
The miners kept pressing with Marere and January menacing the out of sorts Bosso wing-backs.
How Mine’s persistent attack finally came to fruition in the 11th minute when January fired them ahead, poking home a Chikafa rebound following a double save by Sibanda.
Marere had roasted cagey Bosso central defender Teenage Hadebe on the left to set up Chikafa, who responded with a perfect shot, which Sibanda punched into January’s path and the midfielder obliged with a good conversion.
Six minutes later, Hadebe miscued a clearance and almost set through Chikafa, but the striker reacted slowly and ended up infringing Sibanda in the aerial challenge.
Bosso survived the miners’ raid in the 29th minute when Musharu dispossessed Edmore Muzanenhamo and charged into the box before sending an inviting cross that found no takers.
Bosso then launched a quick counter attack initiated by the youthful King Nadolo, who dribbled past the two How Mine twin centre backs Wonder Sithole and Mupera and released Bruce Kangwa.
Kangwa sent in a cross from the left and How Mine defender Nelson Tachi seemed to have handled it, but referee Arnold Ncube ignored Highlanders’ pleas for a penalty.
After that Highlanders seemed to rise from their slumber with midfielders Muzanenhamo, Rahman Kutsanzira, who had a subdued game, and Nadolo trying to match their opponents.
A good interplay by Bosso players resulted in striker Obadiah Tarumbwa laying a pass into the path of overlapping right back Webster Chingodza whose weak effort was straight at How Mine’s goalkeeper Donovan Bernard.
How Mine should have doubled their lead on the stroke of halftime through a Marere header off a Sithole corner but the upright came to Bosso’s rescue with Sibanda cleanly beaten.
Highlanders started the second half stronger but were unlucky not to get an equaliser on the 50th minute when Tarumbwa’s effort was timeously blocked by Bernard.
Three minutes later, Tarumbwa’s cut back deflected off How Mine defender Tapiwa Khumbuyani and the ball rolled on the goal line with Bosso players in the box ball watching.
Nadolo also tried his luck from the edge of the box but Bernard was equal to the task.
Just after the hour mark, Sibanda dived full-length to his right to punch out Chikafa’s shot for a corner.
Searching for an equaliser, Highlanders coach Bongani Mafu pulled out Nadolo for Thomas Chideu in the 72nd minute and the Young Warriors’ striker immediately won Bosso a penalty after referee adjudged that he had been brought down by Tachi.
It was rather a harsh penalty for the miners as it appeared as if Chideu was the one who had fouled the How Mine defender.
In-form Mutizwa stepped up to score his third goal of the season, sending Donovan the wrong way.
That goal brought little life into the Highlanders attack and the home side could have gone into the lead in the 81st minute following a quick counter attack, but Chideu was selfish going for goal instead of passing the ball to a better positioned Tarumbwa. The national Under-23 striker’s effort was punched away by Bernard.
How Mine went on to finish the game strongly with forwards Godfrey Nguwodzawo and Marere side netting in added time.
How Mine coach, Luke Masomere rued his team’s missed chances.
“We missed lots of clear cut chances otherwise we should have won the game in the first half. Our game plan was to get an early goal, which we managed to get, and it unsettled our opponents. However, we failed to punish Highlanders,” said Masomere.
He was not happy with the penalty.
“Sometimes it’s not nice as a coach to comment about referees, but I feel we have to improve in terms of fair play.”
Mafu conceded that they had a tough game.
“It was a very tough match where our opponents used experience to get all over us. I think when we had the ball we played well and we fought for the goal,” said Mafu.
Highlanders: Ariel. Sibanda, Webster. Chingodza, Bruce. Kangwa, Erick. Mudzingwa, Teenage. Hadebe, Simon. Munawa, Edmore. Muzanenhamo, Rahman. Kutsanzira, King. Nadolo (Thomas. Chideu, 72nd minute), Obidiah. Tarumbwa, Knox. Mutizwa
How Mine: Donovan. Bernard, Morris. Kadzola, James. Chitereki, Tapiwa. Khumbuyani. Nelson. Tachi, Menard. Mupera, Benjamin. Marere, Timothy January, Wonder. Sithole (Mgcini. Sibanda, 84th minute), Kuda. Musharu, Limited. Chikafa (Godfrey. Nguwodzawo, 84th minute)
Highlanders (0) 1
How Mine (1) 1