Innocent Kurira in BULAWAYO
Chicken Inn……………….(0) 1
WHAT was billed as a showcase for the domestic Premiership was marred by mayhem at Barbourfields yesterday as CAPS United fans, players and officials protested against the decision by the referee to award the hosts a late penalty.
The chaos forced a six-minute stoppage and mirrored the scenes at Rufaro, where the game between champions FC Platinum and Dynamos, was also halted for 16 minutes after the referee turned down an appeal for a penalty by the Glamour Boys.
At the end of it all, CAPS United remained top, their advantage reduced to four points by the chasing pack of Chicken Inn and FC Platinum.
The Green Machine fans, the club’s security team and players all took part in the protests which erupted in the 73rd minute when referee awarded the hosts a penalty.
Livewire forward Obriel Chirinda went down under the challenge of visitors’ goalie, Tonderai Mateyaunga, inside the box.
The referee pointed to the spot and, unhappy with the decision, the CAPS United fans, housed at the Mpilo-end of the stadium, rained missiles onto the field of play in protest.
The Green Machine players also lost their cool and walked off the pitch to their dugout after their aggressive confrontation with Mabhena proved fruitless.
They staged a six-minute protest, while Ronald Chitiyo continued to confront the referee.
After the heated drama had died down, defender Passmore Bernard kept his cool and sent the ‘keeper the wrong way to thrust the Gamecocks into the lead.
It proved to be the winning goal.
CAPS United pushed hard for an equaliser, but one could tell from their body language that they had lost their concentration during that six-minute stoppage.
Soon after Mabhena blew the final whistle, CAPS United substitute, Blessing Sarupinda, appeared to manhandle the referee.
Some of his teammates tried to restrain him but, suddenly, a wave of the Green Machine players menacingly charged at Mabhena.
Big striker Dominic Chungwa peeled off his shirt and took aim at Mabhena before being stopped by Chicken Inn bouncers and police details.
But the “war’’ wasn’t over as CAPS United players and security team, led by the trio of John Zhuwawu, Chungwa and Chitiyo were involved in a brawl with some PSL bouncers.
The shameful situation only calmed after more police details were deployed at the dressing room area.
Away from the drama, Chicken Inn were the better side on the day.
Inside the five minutes Chirinda outran the CAPS United defence on three occasions, but his decision making was horrible.
The visitors’ first real chance came in the 15th minute when Hardlife Zvirekwi broke on the left side and sent in a low cross, which was met by Chitiyo inside the box.
The midfielder, who has been in good form of late, controlled the ball with ease and shot at goal, but his effort was blocked by a sliding Moses Jackson.
The Gamecocks had a penalty appeal turned down in the 23rd minute after Simon Munawa went down inside the box under the challenge of Dominic Mukandi.
On the stroke of half-time, Innocent Muchaneka found himself free inside the box only to sky his effort from six yards.
In the second-half, the visitors fortified their midfield by bringing in a more defensive player, Sarupinda, and they began to match the Gamecocks.
However, at the end, it was Chicken Inn who were smiling.
The victory ended the Gamecocks’ three-game winless streak and brought them back into the title race.
They now trail CAPS United by four points with seven games to go.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas was a happy man after collecting points against their direct rivals for the league title.
“It was good to collect all three points. Of course, it’s just 1-0, but it gets us back into the title race.
‘‘We should have buried CAPS United in the first-half, but we wasted a number of chances,” said Antipas.
His CAPS United counterpart, Darlington Dodo, did not make it to the post-match interview following the dressing room brawl.
The Green Machine team bus had to be escorted by police out of the stadium.
Chicken Inn: D. Bernard, P. Bernard, B. Nyahunzwi, X. Ndlovu (P. Dube 49th min) S. Munawa, M. Jackson, T. Chipunza, V. Kandonzvo, G. Majika (S. Ndlovu 82nd min), O. Chirinda, I. Muchaneka (B. Amidu 45th min)
CAPS United: T.Mateyaunga, H. Zvirekwi, G. Gorayati, L. Zvasiya, C. Rusere, D. Mukandi, J. Ngodzo (J. Zhuwawo 70th min), P. Bamusi, (B. Sarupinda 45th min), K. Ndebele (N. Sianchali 83rd min), R. Chitiyo, D. Chungwa