Dumisani Nsingo in BULAWAYO
Highlanders . . . . . . . . (1) 3
Hwange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0
HIGHLANDERS turned on the power to destroy Hwange and lead their coach Erol Akbay to announce his team, who appeared to have lost their way in recent weeks, were back in business. The Bulawayo giants put up a good performance in the second half to dust themselves up from the mid-week loss they suffered at the hands of Black Rhinos.
Hwange played the last 22 minutes with 10 men after Collen Muleya got a second booking.
By then, Highlanders were leading 1-0 courtesy of a 12th minute goal by Brian Banda.
In the build-up to Highlanders’ opener, midfielder King Nadolo, who produced a man-of-the match performance, broke loose on the left flank by weaving his way past two Hwange defenders and set up Godfrey Makaruse.
In turn, Makaruse picked up Banda inside the 18-yard box and his shot beat diving Hwange goalkeeper Taimon Mvula.
The miss of the day fell to Shepherd Gahadzikwa of Hwange who came face-to-face with Highlanders’ goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda after catching the home team’s defence napping but released a tame shot which the ‘keeper saved.
Akbay brought in his top marksman Prince Dube for a tired Makaruse at the resumption of the second half.
Thereafter Bosso took the game to their opponents but Dube, Ralph Matema and Nadolo were guilty of missing good chances.
The turning point of the game came in the 68th minute when Muleya was shown a red after being booked for a second time.
Muleya struggled to contain Rahman Kutsanzira for the better part of the game and earned himself a second yellow card when he pulled the Highlanders midfielder as he was charging towards goal.
Highlanders used their numerical advantage with Nadolo and Kutsanzira engineering most moves from the midfield as Hwange’s midfield was left chasing shadows.
Nadolo capped a fine afternoon with a 76th minute goal, tapping in a pin-point pass from Dube inside the visitors’ 12-yard box following an impressive exchange of passes between the two.
Dube scored his sixth goal of the season three minutes later to put the game to bed and this time Kutsanzira provided the assist.
“We needed the three points really hard. As you can see we are in the top eight, this is not good for Highlanders considering what we want this year.
“So it’s good that we won. I changed the team today because every time when we play a team at the bottom of the log we always experience problems and that is why I changed the team.
“Highlanders is coming back don’t worry,” Akbay said.
Highlanders made several changes to their regular starting 11 which saw Rodreck Mutuma, Tendai Ngulube, Allen Gahadzikwa, Simon Munawa and Benson Dube dropped.
Hwange coach Nation Dube felt the red card affected his game plan.
“I was not happy with the awarding of the red card. Match officials changed the complexion of the game. In most games we have lost, referees have decided the outcome,” said Dube.