BULAWAYO – Highlanders and CAPS United played out a goalless draw in an incident-packed Castle Premiership encounter at Barbourfields Stadium on Sunday.
Match referee Philani Ncube’s name will be on the lips of many football followers after a bizarre incident in the first half that left fans dumbfounded.
Ncube signalled for a CAPS penalty after Highlanders defender Simon Munawa had tripped CAPS forward Rahman Kutsanzira in the Highlanders penalty box on 21 minutes.
But before the kick could be taken, Ncube was summoned by the fourth official Bekezela Makeka, who informed him that the second assistant referee Brighton Nyika had already flagged Kutsanzira for offside before the challenge was made.
After consultations with Nyika, the referee then reversed his decision and awarded Highlanders a free kick.
This infuriated the CAPS players, who mobbed the referee leading to a four-minute stoppage.
After the resumption the visitors found another reason to moan about the referee when Ncube expelled their defender Arnold Chivheya for a second bookable offence on 36 minutes.
Chivheya, who was already sitting on a yellow card for blocking Highlanders midfielder Masimba Mambare from taking a throw in after 20 minutes, was sent for an early shower after he hacked down Bosso striker Milton Ncube from behind.
CAPS head coach Taurai Mangwiro was happy with the point his side garnered away from home.
“I think with a bit of luck we could have walked away with maximum points but I am happy with the point that we picked up,” Mangwirosaid.
“The good thing is that we are still within the chasing pack and hopefully we will continue to play well in our coming games.”
Highlanders moved up to second place on 30 points while CAPS moved into fifth place on 27.
Highlanders head coach Kelvin Kaindu expressed satisfaction at his team’s performance despite their failure to pick up maximum points.
“I am happy with the team’s performance because at least we managed to pick up a point which is an improvement since we are coming off a string of defeats,” Kaindu said.
In the second half, CAPS United continued to dominate proceedings despite being a man down.
Highlanders failed to play their usual passing game until the introduction of Njabulo Ncube and Mthulisi Maphosa.
Njabulo replaced Mambare on 54 minutes and brought a new dimension to the Bosso attack with some intelligent hold up play.
The Highlanders midfielders failed to complement the Bosso striker’s efforts until Maphosa entered the fray on 70 minutes when he replaced Munawa.
Maphosa introduced some purposeful play and helped Highlanders to finally enjoy their numerical advantage but they failed to turn their dominance into goals.