Highlanders trounce Shabanie
Highlanders (0) 3 Shabanie Mine 0
HIGHLANDERS produced a brilliant second half performance as they picked up their second win of the season after dismissing Shabanie Mine in a Premier Soccer League match played at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
In the season opener last week, Highlanders beat Chapungu 21 at Ascot, while Shabanie were on the receiving end from Hwange by the same scoreline.
It was coach Methembe Ndlovu's return to Barbourfields for the first time in a competitive match and he was greeted by no less than 10 000 supporters.
The former champions join the likes of Lancashire Steel, Black Rhinos, who dismissed Dynamos 21, CAPS United who thrashed Buymore 30 and Masvingo who have a 100 percent start to the 2006 campaign.
The win was dedicated to defender Gilbert Banda, who lost his sister in South Africa last week.
The match also saw former Njube Sundowns defender Danisa Phiri making his debut in Highlanders colours when he came in for right back Anzilom Ndlovu at the beginning of the second half
Despite being wasteful Obadiah Tarumbwa hit the net twice in the 52nd and 87th minute while Ralph Matema scored his third goal in two matches with a strike in the 81st minute.
Had it not been for Shabanie goalkeeper Pedzisayi Benjamin's heroics in the second half, both strikers could easily have scored hattrick.
There was plenty of action in the opening 30 minutes of the match as Highlanders sought an early opener to unsettle the visitors.
Tarumbwa had a shot at goal in the first minute, after Shabanie Mine defender Joana Mangiza failed to clear a Tapuwa Kapini goalkick, but the visitors goalkeeper Benjamin was equal to the task.
A minute later, Johannes Ngodzo combined with his brother Zephaniah, but the final shot was too weak to trouble the goalkeeper.
Matema kept up the pressure with a followup shot, but it seemed long range efforts were going to be Benjamin's cake the whole day.
Eight minutes into the match, big Shadreck Malunga forced Kapini into a double save, with the ball taking a wicket bounce off his chest. But he got it right the second time.
Two minutes later, as Shabanie seemed to have absorbed the pressure and were coming out in attack, Victor Mutandavari broke through on the left and his shot at goal forced off a corner.
James Chitereki almost silenced the Highlanders supporters in the 25th minute when his goalbound header ricocheted off the cross bar with Kapini a beaten man. This was the first instance where the Highlanders defence of Banda, Master Masiku, Zephaniah Ngodzo and Ndlovu was exposed.
On the halfhour, the match just went to sleep with both teams lacking creativity in the centre to open up cracks in the defence.
It was only in the 41st minute when Ngodzo (snr) forced Benjamin into a good save from a freekick taken outside the box.
The second half started with Highlanders trying to exert pressure again and Matema came close in the 50th minute when his overhead kick wen just wide.
A minute later, Tarumbwa be intercepted a poor clearance from the back, shrugged off the challenge of Misheck Makota and despite all that hard work, he shot straight at the keeper.
But he was not to be denied in the 52nd minute when he received a pass from Lincoln Siwela and drilled a grounder from outside the box into the bottom corner that beat Benjamin for pace to give Highlanders the lead.
On the hour, Tarumbwa latched on a chested pass from Matema and tried to beat the goalkeeper to the near post, but Benjamin produced a reflex save to turn the ball away for a corner.
Substitute Farai Mujokoro had a shot tipped over the bar in the 63rd minute, while Matema had the ball taken away from his feet by the goalkeeper after he had shrugged off the challenge of Stephen Matsaira and Makota in the box.
In the 67th minute, Zephaniah and Masiku combined to gift Phillip Sithole with the ball outside the box. He inturn found Chitereki lurking on the left side of the box, but his shot as way off target.
Tarumbwa had the best chance to complete a double in the 72nd minute when he received a pass from Matema and came face to face with the keeper. But his attempt to chip the ball over failed as Benjamin stuck out his hand to tip the ball away.
Mutandavari had the best chance to draw Shabanie level in the 74th minute when he sprang the Highlanders offside trap, but side footed his effort off target with only Kapini to beat.
Matema scored his third goal of the campaign in the 81st minute when he capitalised on a defensive lapse as Shabanie failed to clear a low Ngodzo (snr) corner. He sneaked in at the far post to poke the ball into the net.
Phiri almost handed Shabanie a consolation when his intended back pass was intercepted by substitute Vincent Nzombe. His first shot was blocked and the ball bounced off his body leaving him clear, but he watched in agony as the ball went over.
Tarumbwa killed the match as a contest in the 87th minute when he finished off a move by his strike partner Matema to slot the ball past an advancing Benjamin.
Highlanders coach Ndlovu said he was impressed by the team's performance in the second half.
"Overall, it was a good performance, although we seemed to have lost control of the match at one stage in the first half. We gave away two chances in the second half, but otherwise it was a fantastic performance and we created a lot of chances,' he said after the match.
Shabanie boss Tavaka Gumbo said it was a better performance by his charges despite the loss.
"It was a good game compared to our last match and we just need to find the winning formula and we will be okay," he said.
Highlanders: T Kapini, A Ndlovu (Phiri 46th min), Z Ngodzo, M Masiku, G Banda, M Masuku, H Gombami, L Siwela (Mujokoro 56th min), J Ngodzo, O Tarumbwa, R Matema.
Shabanie Mine: P Benjamin, P Sithole, M Makota, J Mangiza, S Malunga, T Mazanhi, S Muchabaya, R Munyati (D Michael 67th min), V Mutandavari, S Matsaira, J Chitereki (Nzombe 82nd minute)
Match officials: E Nkau, C Nyoni, R Ngwarai
Est att: 10 000