BY HENRY MHARA IN MUTARE
Cranborne Bullets . . . . . . . (1) 1
Chicken Inn . . . . . . . . . . . . (2) 4
CHICKEN Inn consolidated their lead at the top of the Premier Soccer League log standings with a come-from-behind victory over Cranborne Bullets at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare yesterday.
Winger Jarrison Selemani curled in a beautiful freekick to put the hosts in front 19 minutes into the match. However, the advantage was short-lived as Bret Amidu restored parity eight minutes later.
Malvin Hwata turned the match on its head with a cool finish in the 39th minute to give the visiting side a lead into the half-time break.
The industrious Brian Muza, one of the best players in the league so far, increased Chicken Inn’s lead in the 68th minute with a goal worthy of yet another fine performance from him. It was his 10th goal of the season to move top of the goal-scoring charts.
Four minutes later it was four-nil as Munashe Pini completed the rout against the relegation strugglers.
With the victory, Chicken Inn opened a four-point gap at the top although second-placed FC Platinum have a chance to close the gap back to a point when they face off with Tenax here at Sakubva this afternoon.
Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas was full of praise for his side.
“It was a good game,” Antipas said. “We came up with a good game plan and executed it well. We conceded a brilliant goal, and there was nothing we could have done about it. It was a brilliant freekick from the boy, but we fought back. We dominated play and we were calm. We also managed the game very well. I can say this was a five-star show… good ball distribution and quick play so I’m happy about it.
Chicken Inn’s victory was made sweeter after one of their rivals in the race Dynamos dropped three points following their defeat to Yadah yesterday.
But with 16 matches remaining before the season ends, the 2016 league-winning coach knows it’s still a long way to go.
“This was a good three points and we have to continue this way if we are going to have a shout on the title race because other teams are all doing well. We are just hoping for guidance from the good Lord to guide us through but it’s still early days so we are just taking it game by game,” Antipas said.
The defeat drowned Cranborne Bullets further down in the relegation murky waters. They are now in 15th position on the 18-team standings with 16 points.
Coach Nesbert Saruchera blamed the result on his defence, which he said was “not up to scratch.”
“Defensively we were terrible,” Saruchera said. “We didn’t defend well, our defence was not up to scratch. We created some good chances which we failed to finish, but defensively we were poor. I have seen teams winning 1-0 but for us we couldn’t because we were terrible at the back.
Asked if his team will survive relegation at the end of the season, Saruchera said, “Hopefully, we need to keep on fighting. We have to work hard to make sure we start winning before it is too late. We have quality in the team, probably the only problem is at the back but the team is good. We have youngsters with a lot of potential. I’m sure we are going to improve.”
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Results & Fixtures
Friday: Herentals 2-0 Harare City
Yesterday: Cranborne Bullets 1-4 Chicken Inn, Bulawayo City 0-3 Ngezi Platinum Stars, Yadah 1-0 Dynamos
Today: Tenax v FC Platinum (Sakubva), CAPS United v ZPC Kariba (NSS), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), Whawha v Manica Diamonds (Ascot), Triangle v Bulawayo Chiefs.