BLACK RHINOS . . .(1) 1 FC PLATINUM . . . (0) 1
HARARE-FC PLATINUM’S title bid suffered a jolt after they were held to a draw by army side Black Rhinos in a Castle Lager Premiership tie at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Wednesday.
Closest challengers Ngezi Platinum emerged the major beneficiaries after they prevailed 1-0 over ZPC Kariba at the Baobab to reduce the gap to two points.
Norman Mapeza’s men went into the match seeking maximum points to consolidate their lead, but found Black Rhinos difficult to break down.
The Zvishavane side appeared to struggle in dealing with the pressure of being at the top, as they failed to impose themselves on the match.
Their trademark passing game deserted them when it mattered most and the home team took advantage by launching a series of raids into the opponents’ goal area.
It became a question of when rather than if Black Rhinos would score.
And the goal did come on 38 minutes, with Allen Gahadzikwa leaping before twisting to direct his header into the nets from a Tafadzwa Jaravani cross.
FC Platinum looked deflated afterwards, while the army side grew in confidence and continued to threaten with some methodical build-ups.
The army side’s Farai Banda was guilty of a miss on 40 minutes after being set up by Masimba Mambare.
But in the second half, FC Platinum took control of the match as they desperately sought an equaliser.
Mapeza made changes in the second half, bringing in Devon Chafa for Albert Eonde and Never Tigere, who came in for Farai Madhanaga.
Still Black Rhinos remained a threat, with Masimba Mambare coming close on 56 minutes, only for William Sitima to clear the effort out of danger.
However, FC Platinum continued to probe and were rewarded on 78 minutes when top marksman Rodwell Chinyengetere rose to plant a firm header into the nets following a cross from Tigere.
From there on, action swung from one end to the other, as both teams sought to kill off the match.
Mapeza’s side, who were in total control towards the end, were, however, denied by some stoic defending from the hosts. The FC Platinum mentor was happy to collect a point in the end.
“We came here looking to get maximum points, but we couldn’t. It’s all part of the game. But coming from a goal down to equalise, I am satisfied. We will take the point,” he said.
“It was a difficult game, but we kept pushing in the second half and we equalised. But our creativity was not that good in the final third. Had we been creative enough, we could have won this match.”
His counterpart Hebert Maruwa was happy to get the point.
“It was a good show by the boys. We failed to defend in the second half, but we created two clear chances,” he said.
“We wanted to score, but them came back strong in the second half. They were more hungrier than us.”
Wednesday: Black Rhinos 1-1 FC Platinum, Ngezi Platinum 1-0 ZPC Kariba, Nichrut 1-0 Bulawayo City, Mutare City Rovers 1-0 Highlanders, Chicken Inn 1-2 Caps United, Triangle 1-1 Harare City, Herentals 1-0 Bulawayo Chiefs
Fixture: Thursday: Dynamos vs Chapungu (Rufaro)-NewsDay