Gweru — A wasteful Hardbody condemned themselves to their first draw of the season when they were held to a draw by fellow debutants Harare City in an exciting Castle Lager Premiership soccer match at Ascot yesterday.
The busmen's lack of striking options was exposed when gaffer Tavaka Gumbo started with three strikers -- Calisto Maheya, Michael Mageja and former Lancashire Steel forward Malvern Nyakabangwe -- and when it was evident that a change in personnel was needed upfront, the dreadlocked mentor was stranded as the only other option Aleck Marime was out with an injury.
The predominantly Hardbody crowd expressed their displeasure by whistling to Gumbo to make a change but the former Shu-Shine midfielder maestro was unperturbed and stuck to his guns.
The draw leaves the Gweru-based side in the murky waters of the relegation zone with seven points.
Hardbody, who are on the verge of clinching a sponsorship deal with a local chain fast food outlet, were the first off the blocks when they scored one of the quickest goal of the season when Maheya connected a Richard Jongwe cross from outside the box after only 30 seconds.
Jongwe had received a pass from Cornilius Simango before charging towards goal where he beat two Harare City defenders before sending in a cross which was missed by Mageja but found the Hardbody captain perfectly positioned and he had the easiest of tasks to fire the ball home from rangepast a stranded Regis Dongo, the Sunshine Boys goalkeeper.
Harare City almost levelled the scores four minutes later when Godfrey Nguwodzawo's cross found an unmarked Nathan Ziwini in the box and with only the goalkeeper to beat but he shot wide.
However, the visitors never gave up and found the equaliser through Crybert Muguti who fired a grounder to the far corner of the net after a neat pass from Nguwodzawo.
After this goal both sides withdrew to their cocoons and were content with going to the breather on level terms.
It was in the second half that the home side's lack of a sure-footed striker finisher was exposed when they took the game to their opponents and dominated the exchanges but found no second goal.
The best chance of the afternoon fell to Nhlanhla Ncube in the 59th minute when he failed to push the ball home after he completely missing after a perfect cross from Nyakabangwe with the Harare City defence at sea.
Impressive right back Irvine Mugwamba almost handed the visitors the victory in the 68th minute when he headed the ball towards his own goal but the danger was averted by an alert Useni who cleared it for a corner.
Mageja almost gave the T and H Transport-sponsored side maximum points but was let down by his first touch inside the box and the ball wassafely collected by the Harare City goalkeeper.
After the match both coaches were satisfied with the draw but Harare City mentor Darlington Dodo had no kind words for the match officials led by referee Brighton Malantule whom he accused of biased officiating.
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