Motor Action………………. 0
Highlanders managed to weather the storm and maintain their vice-like grip at the top of the Castle Lager Premiership log standings after snatching a point off spirited Motor Action in a thrilling tie at Rufaro Stadium yesterday.
The result means Bosso will retain their six-point lead in the event that FC Platinum and high-flying Shabanie Mine fail to collect maximum points in their separate league matches today.
No team has yet found the formula to stop the Highlanders juggernaut and the worst Bosso have recorded is a draw and only on three occasions so far. The Bulawayo side’s five away fixtures have brought for them 11 points but yesterday was the second game in a row that Highlanders failed to pocket maximum points after playing a goalless draw with city rivals Chicken Inn last week.
Motor Action had the lion’s share of possession in the first half and were the team asking more questions. Had the Mighty Bulls been sharper in front of goal, they could have harvested plenty of goals but Norman Maroto was a pale of shadow of his usual deadly self.
Maroto could have registered his name on the score sheet in the 24th minute, following a clever backheel by Isaac Masame that fell on his path but the resultant first-time volley missed target by a whisker.
Highlanders responded three minutes later when a perfect delivery by exciting Graham Ncube met the boot of Masimba Mambare who was facing his former paymaster but he failed to connect a header with the goal yawning.
Mambare, who was playing in familiar territory, could not believe it when he was substituted in the 37th minute, just after he missed what looked like a simple tap-in following good work by Ncube, who was involved in most of Bosso’s raids.
Motor Action could have gone to the breather leading after a long searching ball by Thembani Masuku found an unmarked Masame but he was slow to react and, in the process, allowed national Under-23 goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda to close in and make a save.
The second half belonged to Highlanders but they could not punish the Bulls defence with youngsters Ozias Zibande, Ncube, Arnold Ndiweni and Under-20 striker Knox Mutizwa taking turns to miss.
In the 54th minute, some good build-ups laced with some intelligent passes by Highlanders saw a chip by Ncube fall on the path of an on-rushing Zibande, but again he skied his effort with only the goal at his mercy.
Bosso felt hard done by referee Langton Chitsa in the 79th minute after star player Ncube threaded a neat pass to second-half substitute Beavan Chikaka but, before the latter could take a crack a goal, Morris Kadzola pulled him down and yet Chitsa waved play on.
Motor Action could have wrapped up the match in the 85th minute following a lapse in concentration by Highlanders defenders that presented Masuku the opportunity to drill
the ball home after goalkeeper Sibanda had come off his line but he was beaten to it by captain Innocent Mapuranga who cleared off the line.
Joey Antipas, the Motor Action coach, felt the draw was the fairest result.
“Highlanders currently lead the log standings so I admit that they gave us tough competition. But you saw we had the right rhythm, we just need to work on our finishing,” said Antipas.
His counterpart, Kelvin Kaindu, who threw into the fray a host of youngsters, was impressed with their hearty performance.
“In the past games, our strength has been our scoring abilities and that is all the youngsters lacked. But they knocked the ball around and hopefully they will pick maximum points next week,” said Kaindu.
Motor Action: R. Mudimu, P. Bernard, B. Chimwamucheri, Y. Ebabali (G. Phiri 69 minute), J. Jam, M. Kadzola, I. Lawe (P. Kabwe 84 minute), N. Maroto (N. Maviri 69 minute), I. Masame, T. Masuku, G. Moyo
Highlanders: A. Sibanda, B. Kangwa, M. Mambare (A. Ndiweni 36 minute), M. Maposa, I. Mapuranga, P. Moyo, E. Mudzingwa, S. Munawa (K. Mutizwa 57 minute), A. Musasa, G. Ncube, O. Sibanda (B. Chikaka 72 minute)