Highlanders ...........................................(1) 1
BULAWAYO giants Highlanders returned to their winning ways when they overcame battling Gunners in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Lafarge yesterday to maintain their grip on top of the log table.
Bosso, who had not won a match in their last three outings, bagged full points courtesy of an own goal by Chando Kupisa defender Moses Demera.
Highlanders had last won a match in May when they beat Shabanie Mine 2-0 and coach Kelvin Kaindu, although he was not entirely satisfied by his side’s performance, believes the victory was the tonic they needed following a run of three draws in their last games.
The Zambian coach said the win over Gunners will set them on the right footing ahead of their showdown with CAPS United at Barbourfields on Sunday.
“It wasn’t one of our best performances, maybe because of the condition of the pitch but it is very important because we had gone for three games without winning.
“I think this has given us the advantage (ahead of the CAPS United game) and I believe it has taken us back to where we were at the beginning of the season,” said Kaindu.
Highlanders are now four points clear at the summit with 28 points from 12 games and are yet to taste defeat following a flying start to their campaign this season.
The former champions desperately needed to start winning again to appease their restless fans in the wake of the violent incidents that rocked their last league match against Harare City at Barbourfields when they surrendered a one goal advantage.
And yesterday Highlanders were full of intent from the beginning with midfielders Masimba Mambare, Mthulisi Maphosa and Peter Moyo on top of their game.
Mambare, who should take the credit for the only goal of the match, was the first to take a crack at goal when he found an opening inside the box to force a good save from goalkeeper Prosper Chigumba six minutes into the game.
The former Motor Action man then made another run into the Gunners box and sent in a harmless looking low cross that Demera miscued into his own goal after 32 minutes.
Bosso missed a good chance to add to their tally when substitute Ozias Zibande failed to do justice to a good cross by overlapping right back Bruce Kangwa in the 85th minute.
Gunners goalkeeper Chigumba made an instinctive save from the resultant corner when Munyaradzi Kunyarimwe almost headed into his own goal in a poor effort to clear the lines.
Gunners who are set to lose about seven players during the transfer period, fielded a virtually new look side with players such as Cliff Sekete, Hardlife Zvirekwi,
Valentine Ndaba, Fungai Chirinda and Byron Madzokere conspicuous by their absence.
Chirinda and Madzokere are currently in South Africa for trials while Sekete is on his way out.
Skipper Pardon Chinungwa was not available as he was serving suspension for the red card he picked against Dynamos two weeks ago and his replacement Victor
Kamhuka gave a brilliant account.Gunners however, had their fair share of chances which they failed to put away yesterday.
They could have found themselves in the driving seat as early as the 11th minute when Highlanders midfielder Maphosa almost beat his goalkeeper with a wicked header from the edge of the box.
Striker William Manondo who had a good outing yesterday could count himself unlucky after his header was cleared from the line by Innocent Mapuranga with the Bosso goalkeeper beaten on the stroke of time.
Manondo had made another attempt a few moments earlier but his full-bloodied shot from close range was deflected over the crossbar in a crowded area.
Midfielder Willard Gondo could also have done better in the 49th minute when he failed to commit himself to a good cross from Leonard Fiyado.
Gunners coach Thanks Tengwe was not happy with the defeat, which is their third on the trot following losses to Black Mambas and Dynamos.
They remained stuck on 12th position with 14 points from 12 starts.
“It’s not looking good. We have gone through a bad patch of late but considering that we are rebuilding with about eight new faces in the team, I am still confident results will come.
“We had our chances and at the moment the talk of relegation is out of the question,” said Tengwe.
Gunners: P Chigumba, M Demera, B Sande, V Kamhuka, M Kunyarimwe, M Muchenje, F Madora (T Mangezi, 89th minute), W Gondo, W Kamudyariwa (T Pephistara, 65th minute), W Manondo, L Fiyado (C Mukuruva, 65th minute)
Highlanders: A Sibanda, B Kangwa, A Musasa, I Mapuranga, E Mudzingwa, M Maphosa, M Mambare, P Moyo, B Chikaka (K Mutizwa, 69th minute), G Ncube (O Zibande, 58th minute), M Ncube (S Munawa, 52nd minute)