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Bosso survive Bullets scare

by Staff reporter
11 Apr 2022 at 06:27hrs | Views
Highlanders 2 - 2 Cranbourne Bullets
HIGHLANDERS had to dig deep into their reserves, coming from two goals down to share the spoils and avoid an embarrassing Castle Lager Premier Soccer League home defeat to Cranborne Bullets at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.

Bosso, who took their unbeaten run to six games following yesterday's stalemate, remained glued in 10th place on the league table with 14 points.

Highlanders survived a fifth minute scare when Jarrison Selemani intelligently beat Bosso central defender Andrew Tandi on the centre line, charged towards the home team's goal, but failed to deliver a final pass to the better positioned Brian Muzondiwa.

Cranborne Bullets deservedly took the lead in the 10th minute when an unmarked Tadiwa Chibunyu headed home a Prince Mutasa cross from the left. Highlanders were punished for sloppy defending with their central defensive pair of Peter Muduhwa and Tandi failing to track their opponent.

Three minutes later, Muzondiwa atoned for his fifth minute miss, capitalising on yet another central defence mix-up to come face-to-face with Bosso keeper Ariel Sibanda before dinking the ball into the net.

Shocked by the two quick goals, Highlanders upped their tempo, pushing Cranborne Bullets back and won a free-kick just outside the box in the 16th minute, but Crispen Ncube hit the ball against the wall.

A minute later, Cranborne Bullets launched a quick counter, with Muzondiwa releasing Selemani on the right and his pile driver brought the best save out of keeper Sibanda.

What was clear was that Highlanders missed the combination of their heartbeat, Nqobizitha Masuku, who is nursing an ankle injury, and Adrian Silla, who was being let down by the former's replacement Muziwakhe Dhlamini, who occasionally wandered off his position, leaving the latter exposed in the middle.

Cranborne Bullets should be commended for being tactically disciplined as every time Bosso tried to launch a quick counter, striker Lynoth Chikuhwa found himself surrounded by at least two defenders, Blessing Gurupira and Moreblessing Mushangwe.

Silla reduced the deficit in the 35th with a deflected long-range shot off a Cranborne Bullets player. It was a goal that Bosso deserved having dominated possession for long periods.

Immediately after the goal, Bosso coach Mandla Mpofu took out right-back Crispen Ncube, who had been having trouble dealing with Chibunyu, for Andrew Mbeba. He also withdrew the out of sorts Dhlamini for Washington Navaya.

Bosso kept on piling pressure, with veteran Rahman Kutsanzira ticking all the boxes in the middle of the park, but they were let down by Toto Banda, who failed to justify his inclusion in the starting team. Banda unnecessarily lost possession and failed to make use of his pace.

On the stroke of half-time, both sides had opportunities to score and the first chance fell to Selemani, who shrugged off a challenge in the box, played a square ball to Muzondiwa, whose first touch let him down.

Action swung to the other end, with Tandi playing an intelligent defence splitting pass to Navaya, but the Bosso striker couldn't direct his header past Cranborne Bullets goalie Elisha Nechiturike.

At the start of the second-half, Highlanders continued from where they'd left, putting the army side on the back foot in search of an equaliser.

Bosso should have drawn level in the 54th minute following a good build-up involving Divine Mhindirira, Mbongeni Ndlovu and Banda. Instead of going for goal after going past Cranborne Bullets' defence, Mhindirira shied away from responsibility and played a square pass to an off-balanced Navaya.

Three minutes later, Ndlovu wasted a glorious chance when he shot over the goal with his weaker right foot after getting to the end of a rebound.

As the game wore on, Cranborne Bullets hardly troubled Bosso, who had camped in their half, and Chikuhwa was left cursing after his header agonisingly went wide after being fed from the left by Navaya.

Highlanders' resilience paid off in the 76th minute when Chikuhwa equalised with a fine header, connecting a perfect delivery from man-of-the-match Kutsanzira in the 76th minute.

Cranborne Bullets coach Nesbert Saruchera was happy with a point and said his plan was to score first and turn Highlanders against their supporters, but that didn't happen as the home crowd rallied behind their team.

"In the first-half we created four chances and scored two, which is positive. I knew that two goals against a team like Highlanders in the first-half were not enough to win us the game, but I'm happy that we managed to get a point," Saruchera said.

Highlanders' coach Mpofu heaved a huge sigh of relief when referee Prince Mathumo blew the final whistle.

Mpofu felt they had dropped two valuable points and described their start to the game as sloppy.

"We conceded two soft goals. To concede such goals with the best keeper and best defence in the land is very disappointing.

I'm very much disappointed with the first-half and I appreciate the fighting spirit that led us to a point.

"Overall, I'm not happy with some personnel and that's why we had to change in the 27th minute because there was nothing we could do," said Mpofu.


Highlanders: Ariel Sibanda, Crispen Ncube (Andrew Mbeba, 35th minute), Mbongeni Ndlovu, Andrew Tandi, Peter Muduhwa, Adrian Silla, Rahman Kutsanzira, Muziwakhe Dhlamini (Washington Navaya, 35th minute), Lynoth Chikuhwa (Godfrey Makaruse, 80th minute), Divine Mhindirira, Toto Banda (Bukhosi Sibanda, 62nd minute)

Cranbourne Bullets: Elisha Nechiturike, Xavier Janatana, Prince Mutasa, Blessing Gurupira, Moreblessing Mushangwe, Tapiwa Charakupa, Tadiwa Chibunyu (Tendai Kachembere, 63rd minute), Kingsley Mureremba, Brian Muzondiwa (Kelvin Chiripawako, 46th minute), Marlvern Mudzuka (Kudakwashe Chidonza, 63rd minute, Tinotenda Meke, 80th minute), Jarrison Selemani (Everson Feremba, 80th minute)

Source - The Herald
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