The Herald (Zimbabwe)

Gem Boys dispatch Simba Bhora

- Oscar Rusenga in Triangle

Manica Diamonds . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 1 Simba Bhora . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0 GERALD Bhero’s first half penalty earned Manica Diamonds maximum points as they edged Simba Bhora in a Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match at Gibbo yesterday to keep their slim title hopes alive.

Despite the loss Simba Bhora were the better team especially in the first and Manica had goalkeeper Geoffrey Chitsumba to thank for keeping his team in the game on several occasions. The visitors could have taken an early lead in the first quarter of an hour when the deadly partnershi­p of Tinashe Balakasi had Tymon Machope had sights on goal.

Chitsumba, who played his first game of the season since joining Gem Boys in the absence of the suspended Tedious Baye, pulled a fantastic double save denying Machope before shutting the door for Balakasi. On both occasions, no one could falter the strikers but applaud for the young keeper.

Manica Diamonds were kept quiet for the better part of the game but defended well as the visitors moved the ball more often in their half.

Manica finally found the breakthrou­gh when their top marksman Fortune Binzi burst into the box before turning veteran defender Patson Jaure, who could only use dirty tactics to stop the slippery striker, but top referee Brighton Chimene had a clear view and did not hesitate to point to the spot four minutes before half-time. Bhero, who is always on penalty duties for Manica, did not disappoint as he scored his fifth goal of the season with a powerful kick past the hapless goalkeeper Simbarashe Chinani, as the hosts went to the half-time break leading. The second half belonged to the visitors and they were patient in their build ups but were unlucky not to be rewarded in the 56th minute when Webster Tafa’s goal-bound header from close range was kept away by man of the match Chitsumba, who displayed some magical reflexes to push the ball out for a corner kick.

Simba Bhora gaffer Tonderai Ndiraya was happy with his team’s performanc­e and commended opposition goalkeeper Chitsumba for his work ethic and overall performanc­e.

“We had a very good first half; we created chances in the first half and I thought Tymon Machope should have scored at least a brace in the first half but he found Geoffrey Chitsumba in good form.

“We got another good chance in the second half, my striker planted a very good header but again Chitsumba was there to save his team.

“We created chances but we were not clinical and there came the unfortunat­e penalty incident, which was a genuine penalty. But I am disappoint­ed by the build up to the penalty. You don’t need to be careless like we did a few minutes before half-time.

“We are still not very safe from relegation. If we can breach the forty points mark I am sure we will really be safe. We can’t afford to relax on 39. There is so much competitio­n at the bottom, so we need to collect points in the next games so that we make sure we are really safe to escape the chop,” said Ndiraya. Manica Diamonds coach Jairos Tapera conceded Simba Bhora gave them a good run for their money but was happy with the result.

“It was a hard fought win for us, we were limited by Simba going forward but defensivel­y we were solid. Our goalkeeper saved us on numerous occasions on his Manica debut. I am happy for him, happy for the three points,” said Tapera.

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