Tadious Manyepo Sports Reporter
Chicken Inn………. (0)1
NEITHER Dynamos nor Chicken Inn could conjure a winning formula, but this Castle Lager Premiership football duel at Rufaro still lived to its lustrous billing yesterday.
Nigel Katawa’s first half strike appeared to be carrying the day for the hosts, who are undefeated in nine successive outings at Rufaro, until Valentine Kadonzvo tapped in the equaliser for Chicken Inn with hardly 10 minutes before the final whistle.
Chicken Inn, desperate to put a stop to a three-game winless run before this showdown, had looked the more organised side in the initial stages of the match but they wouldn’t find an early way through.
Instead, their patient build-ups, tainted by some few missed opportunities, appeared to give Dynamos the confidence they needed to settle down.
And in no time, Simba Nhivi’s flick-on beat Chicken Inn goalkeeper Pride Zendera only to be cleared off the line by an alert Passmore Bernard.
But with 29 minutes on the clock, Katawa ghosted in at the back post to plant a firm header into the bottom left corner after meeting a perfect-height corner from Tinotenda Muringai.
The Joey Antipas-coached Chicken Inn side quickly re-organised and could have found an equaliser five minutes later but Innocent Mucheneka’s lob inside the box was somehow tipped over by Dynamos goalminder Simbarashe Chinani whose elasticity helped him to a good day between the sticks.
Antipas made a tactical substitution upon resumption, bringing on Nicole Mutatiwa for the off-colour Malvin Gaki and the move paid dividends late in the game.
With the visitors relentlessly probing the DeMbare goal, it was Dynamos at the other end who should have put the game beyond Chicken Inn’s reach but Simba Nhivi, unmarked in the box, blew a rebound wide with a beaten Zendera helplessly sprawling on the turf. While the entire Dynamos squad was still wondering how the veteran striker had missed that effort, Chicken Inn responded almost instantly with Sipho Ndlovu, hardly five minutes after coming from the bench, combining with Mutatiwa before the former released a swerve-pass through a cluster of Dynamos defenders which Kadonzvo placed beyond Chinani’s reach.
Chicken Inn took their tally to 32 points, three behind leaders FC Platinum and remained fourth on the log but they clearly missed Clive Agusto, their reliable goal-getter who has since moved to South African Premiership side Maritzburg United.
DeMbare, on the other hand, leapfrogged Chapungu to eighth on the standings with 29 points to their name.
Yet Dynamos coach Tonderai Ndiraya had spoken about the need for his charges to retain a strong mentality before the high-stakes encounter.
He was still blaming the lack of it after the team missed a glut of clear-cut chances before their guests equalised.
“Look, we appeared to be cruising to victory but again we lacked that mental strength. We had it in our grasp but some casual display towards the end, including some sloppy marking in the defensive third, saw us conceding late in the game,” said Ndiraya.
“But, this is Chicken Inn we were playing against, one of the top contenders for the league title and considering where we are coming from, at the end of the day, a draw was fair.
“I thought we had an upper hand but then we failed to stifle them in midfield where they started their goal build-up.”
Antipas, who has made it clear his troops are gunning for the championship this season, praised his team for a strong second half display.
“It was a hard-fought game, I think both sides played well. It was more or less a game of two halves, so in that situation it is difficult to get a win.
“So a share of the spoils, I can’t complain. But then we conceded a silly goal. But all in all the boys came out stronger in the second half.
“We did create a couple of chances but failed to finish them off. It was a good and entertaining game,” he said.
Dynamos: S. Chinani, G. Mukambi, T. Muringai, N. Katawa, A. Mawadza, S. Nhivi (K. Dhemere, 78th min) A. Maliselo, E. Jalai, E. Katema, N. Mangala (J.Selemani, 64th min) G. Murwira.
Chicken Inn: P. Zendera, M. Jackson, G. Goddard, X. Ndlovu, T. Chipunza, S. Munawa, I. Mucheneka (S. Ndlovu, 73rd min), T. Kadonzvo, M. Gaki (N. Mutatiwa, 46th min) , P. Benard, B. Amidu.