FC Platinum keep title hopes alive

ZVISHAVANE - FC Platinum produced one of their finest displays this season to thump Highlanders 3-0 at Mandava Stadium yesterday and ensure the Castle Lager Premiership title race goes to the wire.

Needing nothing short of victory to stay in the title race, the platinum miners were able to collect maximum points after second half goals from Gerald Takwara, Walter Musona and Charles Sibanda.

Norman Mapeza’s side are now on 58 points and trail log leaders CAPS United by two going into the last round next week.

The platinum miners will be away to Tsholotsho next weekend and need to win while hoping CAPS, who will be away to Chapungu, lose or draw for them to win the title for the first time since their promotion in 2011.

Yesterday was also the first time the Zvishavane-based side had completed a double over Bosso, having won 2-1 the reverse fixture at Barbourfields Stadium back in March.

However, it was Highlanders who enjoyed the better exchanges in the opening minutes of yesterday’s encounter.

Simon Munawa almost opened the scoring for the visitors, who still had an outside chance of winning the league, when his cross-cum-shot from the right crashed against the upright in the 10th minute.

FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari had anticipated a cross and by the time he readjusted his position it was too late. Luckily for the home side the ball ricocheted back into play.

Moments later, Bosso won a free kick on the right which was sent into the back post by Prince Dube.

Mhari was caught in no man’s land by the flight of the ball and it fell kindly to Bosso defender Tendai Ndlovu.

FC Platinum fullback Ian Nekati bailed out his goalkeeper after he blocked Ndlovu’s shot right on the goal line for a corner.

It was all Highlanders in those opening minutes and in the 14th minute, Godfrey Makaruse brought out a good save from Mhari with a shot from outside the box.

Mhari was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half as he was called into action again in the 23rd minute when he parried for a corner another long range shot from Munawa. Erick Mudzingwa headed over the bar from the corner kick.

Bosso had the ball in the back of the net after 28 minutes but Ralph Matema’s effort from close range was correctly ruled out for offside by referee Nomore Matemera.

Sensing his team was failing to handle the Bosso pressure, Mapeza pulled out forward Tarisai Rukanda and replaced him with Charles Sibanda just after the half hour mark.

Moments later, the home side created their first real chance of the match when the substitute found space on the edge of the box before unleashing a curling shot.

Highlanders goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda, who had been a spectator for the first 30 minutes, parried the shot for a corner.

FC Platinum regained their composure and began to take the game to the visitors. 

A minute before the break, Rodwell Chinyengetere almost gave them the lead but his shot was saved by Ariel Sibanda before Nekati shot tamely at goal from the rebound.

With CAPS United leading Ngezi Platinum Stars 1-0 at half time in Harare, Mapeza must have rallied his troops at the break as they maintained their momentum in the second period.

They did not have to wait for long to find the opener as it came just six minutes after the break from an unlikely source.

Takwara was left unmarked inside the box to meet a corner kick from Chinyengetere which he headed onto the ground.

The ball bounced back onto his thigh and the Bosso defenders appealed for a hand ball decision which never came.

The FC Platinum holding midfielder poked the ball home from close range to beat Ariel Sibanda.

After the goal, the heavens opened up and the match had to be stopped briefly as fans encroached into the field as they made a bee line for the Grand Stand where there was shed against the rain.

Bosso began to throw a lot of numbers forward in search of an equaliser leaving space for the home side to exploit on the break.

That is exactly what happened in the 72nd minute when Musona raced clear on the counter after a Bosso corner kick before rounding off Ariel Sibanda to tap into an empty net.

As the home side celebrated, a Highlanders fan made his way onto the pitch and struck Mapeza with a missile on the shoulder.

Total chaos ensued as the match was stopped while the home side’s coach was treated by medics in an ambulance.

After a seven-minute stoppage, Mapeza returned to the dugout with his right arm in a sling but it did not deter his side.

Charles Sibanda completed the scoring from another counter attack when he unleashed a rising shot on the volley which gave the Bosso goalkeeper no chance in the first minute of added time.

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