BULAWAYO – Veteran striker Njabulo Ncube and underrated goalkeeper Munyaradzi Diya were the darlings of the Highlanders faithful as the Bulawayo giants put up a splendid second half display to overcome a stubborn Harare City in an entertaining Castle Premiership encounter here yesterday.
Njabulo scored Highlanders’ opener and set up Peter Moyo for the second while Diya made a number of crucial saves that had the hard-to-please Soweto supporters chanting his name in appreciation.
The hosts started brightly and Njabulo’s strike partner Graham Ncube had the ball in the net on 10 minutes but his effort was ruled out for offside.
Another chance was lost when Masimba Mambare selfishly shot at goal from an impossible angle instead of passing to a better positioned Graham who was unmarked at the edge of the six yard box.
Harare then awoke from their slumber and their skipper Godfrey Nguwodzawo saw his effort punched away for a corner by Diya on 13 minutes.
The resultant corner kick was badly dealt with by the Highlanders defence and Diya had to tip over another attempt on his goal by James Jam.
And as City began to dominate proceedings, Highlanders introduced Moyo for anchorman Douglas Sibanda after 32 minutes.
The move failed to yield immediate benefits as the visitors continued to pile on the pressure on the hosts.
Nguwodzawo nearly sent City ahead on 34 minutes but his effort narrowly missed the target after he had been set up Talent Chawapihwa.
Chawapihwa had dispossessed an over confident Bruce Tshuma on the left flank before squaring for his skipper but Nguwodzawo’s effort went agonisingly wide.
Tshuma failed to last the distance after he suffered an injury on the stroke of halftime and was replaced by Mthulisi Maphosa.
Maphosa’s introduction and that of Bruce Kangwa on 57 minutes swung the pendulum in Highlanders’ favour as the hosts started to make some impressive build ups from midfield.
City also made a double substitution and brought on Nathan Ziwini for the unimpressive Silas Songani and Martin Vengesai for William Manondo also on 57 minutes.
The two City substitutes combined two minutes after coming on and their efforts saw Ziwini forcing a tip over from Diya after Vengesai had dispossessed the Bosso central defenders to set up his fellow sub who attempted a cheeky lob over the outdrawn keeper.
Bosso’s impressive build up play then saw the bustling Njabulo taking over the show with some intelligent shielding and hold-up play.
And his goal on 67 minutes was one for the archives after he cleverly scooped the ball past City defender Edgar Tapera before calmly slotting it past an advancing Max Nyamupangendengu in the visitors’ goal.
Moyo could have doubled the score on 72 minutes but his effort was disallowed after he helped the ball into the net with his hand.
The dreadlocked midfielder would not be denied however, as he eventually got his goal on 83 minutes after being teed up by Njabulo.
This was after Diya had earlier made a one handed save to deny City’s Raymond Uchen who had latched on to a flick on by Nguwodzawo.
The outstanding keeper also tipped over a free kick by Nguwodzawo in the dying stages to deny the visitors a face saver.
After the match Highlanders coach Kelvin Kaindu heaped praises on his charges for their victory but said his team was still a work in progress.
His City counterpart Bigboy Mawiwi blamed missed opportunities for his side’s defeat. – Sakheleni Nxumalo