HIGHLANDERS maintained their unbeaten run in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League with a convincing victory over a stubborn Monomotapa at Barbourfields yesterday.
The Bulawayo giants now top the log standings with 16 points from six outings.
Milton Ncube put Bosso ahead in the 24th minute with a classic goal from outside the box which beat a drawn out Monomotapa goalkeeper Joram Muchambo.
The goal came after Graham Ncube had lost possession at the edge of Monomotapa’s box with Fidelis Mangezi’s intended pass to Tendai Ngulube intercepted by an alert Maphosa who then played the ball to an unmarked Milton.
Upon receiving the pass, Milton raised his head and saw that Muchambo was not on his goal line before cleverly lobbying over the keeper to send more than 6 000 Highlanders fans into song and dance.
It was Ncube’s fourth goal of the season having last scored in the first match of the season against Blue Rangers.
Four minutes into the second half Highlanders got their second goal courtesy of a close-range strike by Peter Moyo who capitalised on a cheeky dummy by Graham before slotting home.
In the 57th minute Moyo turned provider for his team’s third goal after exchanging passes with Graham who then rounded Muchambo before scoring into an empty net.
Had Bosso been more composed up-front, they could have won this match by a bigger margin.
Highlanders dominated the first half and showed that they wanted maximum points as early as the seventh minute when Milton’s header off a Bruce Kangwa cross missed the target by a few inches.
Heritani Masuku, Moyo, Maphosa and Munawa won most midfield battles and in the 16th minute Charles Rukwanhi became the first player of the day to get a yellow card for a foul on Masuku just outside the box.
The resultant free-kick saw Munawa’s stinger from outside the box grazing off paint from the crossbar with Muchambo beaten.
Monomotapa, who looked dangerous whenever their skipper Tawanda Nyamandwe and Kuda Musharu were in possession, nearly punished Bosso for some poor defending in the 24th minute after the former had beaten Innocent Mapuranga and sent in a hard-and-low pass to the latter who failed to convert with only Ariel Sibanda to beat.
Highlanders then launched a quick counter-attack that saw Graham losing possession trying to beat his marker with Maphosa picking up the loose ball which he passed to Milton who then lobbied over Muchambo to give the home side a deserving lead.
Nyamandwe could have equalised for the visitors in the 30th minute when he beat Eric Mudzingwa for pace only to direct his effort to the stands with only Sibanda to beat.
Highlanders continued with their search for a second goal and a minute before half-time Graham should have punished Monomotapa for sloppy defending but directed his effort to the goalkeeper.
The home team extended their lead four minutes into the second half courtesy of a close-range strike by Moyo.
Highlanders had won a throw-in on the right side which Atlast Musasa took with Milton flicking the ball before Graham sold Mangezi a dummy, leaving Moyo to coolly slot home.
Monomotapa regrouped with former Njube Sundowns player Ngulube dictating the pace in midfield.
They pushed forward almost the entire team in search for a goal and they were nearly punished in the 55th minute when Masuku broke away and passed the ball to Graham who failed to beat Muchambo.
Two minutes later there was nothing that Muchambo could have done as Graham dribbled past him to slot the ball home.
Monomotapa enjoyed superior ball possession for the better part of the second half but failed to turn their dominance into goals.
Highlanders’ gaffer Kelvin Kaindu heaped praises on his defence for keeping a clean sheet.
A. Sibanda, I. Mapuranga, E. Mudzingwa, B. Kangwa, A. Musasa, M. Maphosa, H. Masuku (M. Mambare 70th minute), P. Moyo, A. Munawa (K. Mutizwa 80th minute), M. Ncube (B. Chikaka 70th minute), G. Ncube.
J. Muchambo, H. Mugoriwa, F. Mangezi, R. Chitiyo, T. Ngulube, K. Musharu, T. Nyamandwe (B. Chayambuka 76th minute), O. Mwerahani, R. Madamombe (M. Kawashu 59th minute), C. Rukwanhi, Z. Bizeki.