By Ricky Zililo
Newman Sianchali’s goal at the stroke of full-time completed Highlanders’ second half comeback, leaving Bulawayo Chiefs players dejected after blowing a 2-0 first half lead.
Despite losing to Highlanders, Chiefs survived relegation from the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League following Triangle United’s 4-2 win against Nichrut who completed the list of four teams that have been axed from the topflight.
When Sianchali struck with the last kick of the game, Chiefs players saw their world collapsing, thinking that their survival chances were slim heading to the last game against ZPC Kariba. Unbeknown to them Triangle had done them a favour.
Chiefs had started the first half on fire, forcing Highlanders into making mistakes and breaching Bosso’s backline on numerous occasions.
Highlanders found themselves trailing in the seventh minute, when Chiefs went ahead through Farai Matare, who beat the offside trap coming from a blind side before selling Bosso goalie Ariel Sibanda a dummy and then chipping into the net.
In the 23rd minute, Matare again breached the Highlanders backline but Sibanda reacted quickly to clear the ball to safety.
Highlanders were restricted into making long-range attempts which barely troubled Chiefs players.
Sibanda came to Highlanders’ rescue, keeping the scoreline respectable with a fine 36th minute save that denied Matare a brace.
There was nothing, however, that Sibanda could do to stop Lucky Ndlela’s 40th minute goal, which appeared to have won Chiefs maximum points.
Bosso were caught on a quick counter attack, with Matare who troubled Highlanders’ defenders setting through Ndlela on the blind side and the former Bantu Rovers midfielder kept his cool as he slotted the ball past an advancing Sibanda.
Chiefs went into the break with what looked like a healthy lead, but Highlanders had other plans and came back from the breather to play some meaningful football.
Having failed to assert themselves in the midfield as they played second fiddle to their opponents, Bosso coach Madinda Ndlovu made a tactical double substitution in the 49th minute, introducing midfielders Brian Banda and Denzel Khumalo for Nigel Makumbe and Tafadzwa Sibanda. That was the turning point for Bosso’s game plan as they forced Chiefs to their half and began to dictate the pace in the midfield.
Banda scored Highlanders’ first goal in the 56th minute, completing a move he started after exchanging passes with Tinashe Makanda.
Bulawayo Chiefs … … … … … .. (2) 2
Highlanders … … … … … … … .. (0) 3