Highlanders falter against Gamecocks

BULAWAYO - Highlanders suffered a fresh setback in their Castle Premiership title quest after city rivals Chicken Inn held them to a frustrating draw here yesterday.

Bosso were a pale shadow of the team that has dazzled opponents this season and played second fiddle to the Gamecocks from the first whistle.

“It was a difficult game and all our players were not at their best today, but I am happy that we picked up a point,” said Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu in a post-match interview.

Chicken Inn continued from where they left off in the reverse fixture and targeted the Highlanders central midfield pairing of Mthulisi Maphosa and Peter Moyo.

Thabani Goredema and Sydney Linyama won the crucial midfield battle early in the game with a physical approach that saw Highlanders failing to play their usual passing game.

The home side could have found the opener on 23 minutes when Evans Chikwakwai’s cross found an unmarked Tendai Ndoro in the Highlanders penalty box, but the Chicken Inn winger inexplicably headed across the face of goal with Bosso goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda stranded.

Highlanders’ only notable attempt at goal came after 40 minutes when Peter Moyo’s defence splitting pass released Milton Ncube, but the striker failed to beat Chicken Inn keeper Njabulo Nyoni at his near post.

Chikwaikwai had a golden opportunity to score on the stroke of half time but failed to direct his effort goal wards from inside the six yard box. After the break Highlanders came out of their shell and Milton shot over the bar on 50 minutes after being teed up by Graham Ncube’s cheeky back heel.

Four minutes later, Chicken Inn captain Felix Chindungwe blocked a goal bound Maphosa header for a corner.

That attempt was the Bosso linkman’s last contribution to the match as he made way for Beaven Chikaka on 56 minutes.

Chicken were not sitting back though and Chikwaikwai had an attempt at goal saved by Sibanda on 58 minutes after the speedy striker had dispossessed Highlanders skipper Innocent Mapuranga.

Graham the disappointed Highlanders supporters when he failed to score from a good position after some good work by Peter Moyo on 63 minutes.

Moyo had won the ball on the left flank, just after the centre line before going on a superb run that took him inside the Chicken Inn penalty box. After seeing that he had put himself in a tight angle, he set up Graham, whose weak attempt hit a defender before going out for a corner.

Graham was substituted for Honest Moyo with 15 minutes remaining on the clock as Bosso searched for the winner, but the move did not pay dividends as the young left-back was a ball of nerves and cheaply gave away possession.

The unavailability of right-back Bruce Kangwa and right-sided midfielder Masimba Mambare affected Highlanders’ rhythm as their right flank was not much of an attacking threat yesterday.

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