Ngezi Platinum Stars shot to the top of the log with four matches to go following an emphatic victory over title rivals Dynamos in an epic Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match marred by lengthy stoppages due to crowd trouble at the Boabab Stadium in Mhondoro yesterday.
BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE IN NGEZI
Ngezi Platinum Stars.. (0) 2
Dynamos ……………(0) 0
Qadr Amini and Xolisani Moyo scored in a space of three minutes early in the second half to give the hosts crucial maximum points.
But the match had to be stopped twice after DeMbare fans invaded the pitch, first chasing a ball boy and later after clashing with Ngezi fans.
In a controversial incident early in the second half, a ball boy took the match ball and threw it into the Dynamos goal during an injury-inspired stoppage time, much to the chagrin of visiting fans and players.
Moments later, Amini opened the scoring in the 53rd minute and when Moyo doubled the lead, Dynamos fans charged into the field of play in an attempt to manhandle the ball boy, leading to a five-minute stoppage.
Running battles between rival fans ensued, resulting in Dynamos fans yet again invading the pitch causing another 13-minute stoppage as referee Brighton Chimene feared for the safety of the players.
The match, however, resumed for the last 13 minutes after consultations between the match officials and security details.
Ngezi Platinum, who now have the Premiership title destiny in their hands, surged to the top of the log standings, courtesy of a superior goal difference over FC Platinum, who are also on 60 points.
Dynamos remain third with 58 points and their coach Lloyd Mutasa was disappointed with the result.
“We lost it. When you play a game of this magnitude, there are a lot of breaks. The rhythm was not there, but now we have to think about the next game,” Mutasa said.
“It’s a dent to our title aspirations. We are two points away from the team that beat us today so the destiny is not in our hands. But we are still in the mix, there is still 12 points to play for and we are not going to throw in the towel yet.“
The first real chance fell to Clive Augusto after just 11 minutes when he failed to direct his header from close range.
An acrobatic save on the stroke of half time kept Dynamos in the game, with Tonderai Mateyaunga tipping out a Tichaona Mabvura header.
Amini, however, gave the hosts the lead they deserved eight minutes into the second half, curling the ball beyond Mateyaunga from inside the box.
Moyo doubled the scores three minutes later, rising the highest to nod a Tichaona Mabvura cross into the back of the net.
The second goal resulted in DeMbare fans invading the pitch for the first time, but despite another lengthy stoppage late in the second half, Ngezi remained in control of the game as Dynamos struggled with their rhythm.
Marshal Machazane had a goal disallowed for DeMbare late in the match after Ocean Mushure’s challenge on Ngezi goalkeeper Takabva Mawaya.
Ngezi coach Tonderai Ndiraya was delighted by the commitment of his side.
“It was a very difficult game, played under difficult conditions but I am happy with the character shown by the boys. This was an epic tie, you expect such disturbances as we witnessed and it shows how much both clubs wanted the points,“ he said.
Ngezi Platinum Stars: T Mawaya, D Tavari, W Mukanga, L Chakoroma, C Augusto, G Murwira, X Moyo, T Mabvura (K Bulaji 90’), Dzvukamanja, Q Amini, K Murera.
Dynamos: T Mateyaunga, P Makaha, O Mushure, R Matova (T Simango 77’), Machazane, G Mukombi, T Chipunza, G Saunyama (P Dube 52’), C Kapupurika (M Mambare 90’), Q Kangadze, C Epoupa.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League fixtures and results:
Yesterday: Bulawayo City 1-3 Chapungu, Yadah 0-1 How Mine.
Today: Tsholotsho v Bantu Rovers (Dulivhadzimo), Shabanie Mine v Triangle (Maglas), Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields), CAPS United v Hwange (National Sports Stadium), ZPC Kariba v Chicken Inn (Nyamhunga).