Leaders FC Platinum stemmed a three-match winless streak to overcome Triangle at Gibbo and open a five-point lead at the top of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League standings yesterday.
The platinum miners had been restricted to draws in their last three matches against Hwange and CAPS United away and at home by newboys Mutare City.
Norman Mapeza’s men, however, got it right yesterday to also check Triangle’s min-revival in the process.
Two first half goals from Nqobizita Masuku and Tarisai Rukanda were enough for the table toppers to consolidate their lead.
With second-placed CAPS United slumping to a shock 3-1 defeat at Bulawayo City and third-placed Highlanders having also fallen 1-0 at ZPC Kariba at Nyamhunga, FC Platinum can now enjoy some breathing space ahead of the Week 21 games.
The platinum miners were a far much better side in the first half but the home side also created more than enough chances to get them goals.
James Chivasa was surprised to receive a booking when he thought he had won a penalty after being challenged from behind from a one on one situation with FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari after just eight minutes.
Referee Masakadza Makonese, however, thought otherwise and booked the forward for simulation.
FC Platinum then got the breakthrough on the home side after goalkeeper Ronald Mudimu failed to clear a low cross from the left flank and Masuku capitalised to score from a crowded box.
Triangle then responded with a goal of their own, after a cracking shot by Tichaona Mapungwana from outside the box that gave Mhari no chance as it flew to the bottom left corner in the 17th minute.
Sugar Sugar Boys coach David “Yogi’’ Mandigora was forced to make an injury-inspired substitution taking off Brian Juwayeyi and introducing veteran Guthrie Zhokinyi before the half-hour mark.
Triangle had all of their four centre-backs in the team increasing the number of defensive minded players to eight leaving only Nelson Mazivisa and Chivasa upfont.
FC Platinum restored their lead when Rukanda benefitted from below par officiating from Bikita-based referee Masakadza who waved play on after Triangle defender Kudzai Chigwida appeared to have been fouled in the build up to FC Platinum’s second goal in the 38th minute.
Triangle’s protests to the man on the centre changed nothing and FC Platinum ensured they went to the break leading, an advantage they would hang on until the end of the match.
The second half produced an entertaining affair but Triangle came closest to equalising as Mazivisa’s perfect header forced Mhari to make a smart save in the 49th minute before Walter Musona skied his effort after a brilliant set up from Charles Sibanda on the other end.
Triangle captain Nhamo Lameck who came on as a first half substitute had his thunderbolt pushed out for a corner by the opposing captain Mhari who was busy between the sticks just after the hour mark.
The hosts centre-back Donald Dzvinyai could have seen red when he fouled Marshal Mudehwe midway after a failed counter attack but the referee was lenient and gave a final warning to the defender who was already carrying a yellow card and that left FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza fuming.
Mapeza was, however, happy with the result.
“It was a good game of football. The guys played good football in the first half. We created some few chances but I am happy for the three points,’’ Mapeza said.
Mandigora said he was disappointed to lose at home.
“We lost and I am disappointed about the defeat at home. We disappointed our supporters and I think we could have done better at home,’’ said Mandigora. The Herald
Triangle: Ronald Mudimu, Brian Juwayeyi (Guthrie Zhokinyi 17minutes), Ralph Kawondera, Rodwell Mhlanga, Donald Dzvinyai, Kudzai Chigwida, Marvellous Mukumba, Tichaona Mapungwana, James Chivasa (Nhamo Lameck 43minutes), Meson Nelson (Courage Denias 77minutes), Nelson Maziwisa
FC Platinum: Petros Mhari, Ian Nekati, Gift Bello, Elvis Moyo, Kevin Moyo, Winston Mhango, Rodwell Chinyengetere (Wellington Kamudyariwa 71minutes), Nqobizita Masuku, Charles Sibanda, Walter Musona, Tarisai Rukanda (Marshal Mudehwe 77minutes)