Harare City edge Ngezi Platinum

HARARE - Harare City held on to a 45-minute strike from midfielder Farai Madhananga to beat a spirited Ngezi Platinum Stars in a tepid Castle Premier Soccer League match that only became lively in the last 10 minutes here yesterday.

The Warriors player, who is also comfortable in a left-back position, rose high inside the box on the stroke of halftime to head in City’s only goal from a Raphael Manuvire free kick several metres outside the box.

Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya was forced to make an injury-inspired substitution, bringing on attacking midfielder James Nguluve for left linkman Tichaona Mabvura, who succumbed to a wrist injury after just 35 minutes of play.

With two minutes to go before half time, Manuvire spotted Madhananga unmarked in the box but his hurried effort sailed over the bar before he redeemed himself in a quick turnaround to head past Criss Mverechena in goals for Ngezi.

The second half was a balanced affair with the hosts trying to extend their lead while the visitors frantically searched for an elusive equaliser.

The Sunshine Boys almost doubled the lead through Madhananga in the 52nd minute but his left thunderbolt took a slight deflection for a corner kick while striker Jerry Chipangura missed a free header from a Takudzwa Chimwemwe pinpoint cross from the right.

Ngezi came out of their shells for the first time in the second stanza in the 58th minute when rightback Zivanai Mhanda sent in a cross into the box only for Nguluve to direct his header straight at City goalkeeper Tafadzwa Dube.

The last 10 minutes saw both teams bombarding each other’s goal area but it was Ngezi who would have felt hard done by referee Josiah Masimira for denying them what looked like a genuine penalty on 87 minutes after Crispen Dickson hacked down Teguru inside the box but the man in the middle pointed outside the box.

Harare City coach Moses Chunga admitted his team played badly although in defence he attributed it to injuries and suspensions.

“We didn’t play our normal game today because of the many injuries in the side as well as suspensions. If you look at guys like Raphael (Manuvire) he’s not yet back to his usual self. I think he needs a bit of time,” Chunga said.

“We are comfortable with getting two or more goals. We created about four chances in the first half that went begging but at the end of the day, it’s still a welcome victory, we will take the three points.”

On the other hand, Ndiraya said he was proud of the way his charges fought despite ending on the receiving end.

“I thought we were very much in control of the game but lacked that cutting edge in the final third but I’m proud of my boys, they fought very well. It’s a game we have to forget about and focus on our next assignment which will be at home,” Ndiraya said.

“You would want to think so (that it was a penalty) but the referees are in charge and we can’t control that but we had a lot of chances to score from and blaming the defeat on the ref is a bit unfair.”

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