Gift Mbweti’s late strike helped FC Platinum open a six-point gap at the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League log standings with a dramatic 1-0 win over Highlanders at Mandava Stadium yesterday.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
FC Platinum……………. (0) 1
Highlanders……………. (0) 0
Having won last weekend’s blockbuster clash against Ngezi Platinum right at the death, the reigning champions maintained their winning streak and made sure Tonderai Ndiraya’s men will head into the mid-season break playing second fiddle.
Mbweti got to the end of a Farai Madhanhanga cross to slot the ball home from inside the box in the referee’s optional time.
FC Platinum gaffer Norman Mapeza was happy that his side ended the first half of the season on a high note.
“It’s a game of football and we expected it to be difficult, but we managed to win. We were pushing as they were waiting to hit us on the counter, but we read that and as a result we were rewarded in the last minutes of the game and I am happy for the boys,” Mapeza said.
“We have done very well so far and now that we are on top of the log, it’s going to be intense. We will resume our training after a one-week break.
“We are working hard to progress and that’s the priority,” said Mapeza.
His counterpart Madinda Ndlovu was disappointed with his side’s performance.
“At times, I think football is a crazy game and it’s painful that we lost in the last minute. The boys put so much effort to get something and it’s painful but we cannot control results,” Ndlovu said.
Following Mbweti’s strike, Highlanders fans went berserk, causing some violent scenes just outside the stadium. However, the police managed to quickly quell the disturbances.
The hosts started the game on the front foot, but their first meaningful chance only came on the half-hour mark when former Highlanders skipper Rahman Kutsanzira produced some fine footwork to pick Mkokheli Dube in the box, but the latter missed the target with goalie Prosper Matutu at his mercy.
The miners kept pushing as Charles Sibanda forced an acrobatic save from Matutu with an exquisite free-kick from the left flank.
Highlanders had their fair share of chances but without key players that included, Ariel Sibanda and workhorse midfield enforcer Nigel Makumbe, they looked shaky.
They almost punished the hosts just after the half-time break through MaCclive Phiri when picked by Gabriel Nyoni, but Phiri’s effort was tame.