Highlanders back on top

BULAWAYO - Highlanders reclaimed pole position on the Castle Premiership log after their 2-1 derby victory over How Mine here yesterday.

A first half opportunist goal by Gabriel Nyoni and a well struck second half effort by Simon Munawa earned the Bulawayo giants a victory that saw them overtake overnight leaders CAPS United.

How Mine scored a late consolation through second half substitute Edmore Muzanenhamo to ensure a frantic finish but Highlanders held on for a win.

The victory took Highlanders' points tally to 27 and they enjoy a single point lead over defending champions Dynamos and third placed United.

Highlanders head coach Kelvin Kaindu hailed his charges for their victory over the gold miners.

"Its a good thing that we finally managed to get maximum points as last season it was quite difficult for us to pick up maximum points in the derbies that we played," Kaindu said.

Last season the then Castle Premiership debutants How Mine beat Highlanders home and away.

The match kicked off at a frantic pace and Highlanders had a chance to grab an early lead but Nyoni let How Mine off the hook when he tried to pass the ball to Charles Sibanda instead of going for goal as he was face to face with the hosts keeper Ephraim Mazarura.

And in reply How Mine midfielder Wonder Sithole's piledriver went narrowly wide after a mistake by Munawa.

Action continued to swing from one end to the other and Nyoni watched in disbelief as his header cannoned off the crossbar and back into play off a Sibanda cross on 10 minutes.

The speedy Nyoni finally managed to get his name on the score sheet on 21 minutes when he directed a Valentine Ndaba cross past Mazarura from inside the six yard box.

Bosso had goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda to thank for protecting their lead going into the half time break when he denied ageless How Mine midfielder Menard Mupera from point blank range on 45 minutes.

Mupera had worked his way past a cluster of Highlanders defenders before letting rip a powerful effort that a diving Sibanda miraculously tipped over for a corner.

Rejuvenated former Warriors stopper Sibanda denied Mupera yet again in similar fashion in the second half after the veteran midfielder had beaten an ill conceived Bosso offside trap on 51 minutes.

Moments later Thembani Masuku failed to direct his diving header goalwards as How Mine sought an equaliser.

Mupera then walked off injured on 68 minutes and Highlanders regained control of the midfield with second half substitute Welcome Ndiweni combining well with man of the match Joel Ngodzo.

Munawa then grabbed Highlanders' second goal on 74 minutes with a long range strike that left Mazarura needing medical attention.

The How Mine keeper did not fully recover and was eventually replaced by Notice Dube on 77 minutes.

Ariel then denied Chikurupati midfielder Xolisani Moyo with seven minutes left of the clock again from point blank range as the hosts sought to get onto the scoresheet.

They finally managed to pull one back on 87 minutes when Muzanenhamo beat Sibanda from close range after getting to the end of an Emmanuel Mandiranga cross.

Mandiranga had beaten yet another poorly executed off side trap by Highlanders and beat Munawa before squaring for Muzanenhamo who made no mistake from inside the box.

How Mine assistant coach Isheunesu Chaka expressed disappointment at losing but said his team had tried their best.

"It is disappointing to lose a derby but my boys played very well.

"It is unfortunate that we could not utilise the chances that we created but it just was not our day," Chaka said.

The entertaining encounter was marred by missile throwing incidents at half time after How Mine players were pelted by fans as they knelt on the Soweto end goal mouth apparently in prayer.

How Mine: Ephraim Mazarura (Notice Dube ,77m), Brighton Dube, James Chitereki, Gilbert Banda, George Magariro, Mernard Mupera (Emmanuel Mandiranga, 68m), Xolisani Moyo, Wonder Sithole, Timothy January, Thembani Masuku (Edmore Muzanenhamo, 59m), Kuda Musharu.

Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Simon Munawa, Bruce Kangwa, Innocent Mapuranga, Dumisani Ndlovu, Hillary Madzivanyika, Joel Ngodzo (King Nadolo, 72m), Knox Mutizwa (Welcome Ndiweni ,59m), Valentine Ndaba, Gabriel Nyoni, Charles Sibanda (Godfrey Makaruse, 79m).

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