CHAMPIONS Dynamos finally paid the price for their slump in form when they fell to Chicken Inn at Barbourefields yesterday, handing the title-chasing initiative to their bitter rivals Highlanders.
DeMbare skipper Guthrie Zhokinyi gifted Chicken Inn maximum points when he beat his goalkeeper George Chigova in the 79th minute in a desperate bid to clear the ball under challenge from Chicken Inn's substitute Tendai 'Kid' Mukambi.
Chicken Inn's left back Brian Mbiriri had sent a seemingly harmless cross which the Dynamos' centre backs Zhokinyi and Patson Jaure failed to deal with and as
Mukambi moved in to cause commotion, Zhokinyi beat an advancing Chigova.
The goal silenced the vociferous Dynamos supporters who at that time were hoping that their team would breach Chicken Inn's resolute defence and get a goal.
Dynamos' third defeat of the season saw them swap positions with Bosso who beat Hwange 1-0 to take over top spot with a slender one-point lead.
The Harare giants have been struggling for form in their last two assignments -- the Mbada Diamonds Cup and the league game against Motor Action.
In fact DeMbare had to ride on their luck in those two games.
But there was no lady luck for them yesterday as Zhokinyi beat his own goalkeeper to give Chicken Inn the victory.
Dynamos' coach Callisto Pasuwa conceded defeat and said they lost the plot by playing long balls.
"I think we lost it by pumping the ball forward instead of playing a passing game. My midfielders were not mobile and had we been composed upfront, we could have scored.
"As defending champions, we have to go back to the drawing board, regroup and plan for the future games," Pasuwa said.
True to Pasuwa's words, Dynamos players were always second to the ball especially in midfield where Chicken Inn had Sydney Linyama, Danny 'Deco' Phiri, Kudakwashe Mahachi and hardman Thabani Goredema.
The home side dominated the first half but failed to turn their superior ball possession into goals.
Goredema never gave Dynamos' wonderboy Denver Mukamba any room to manoeuvre while Tawanda Muparati, Dynamos' best player of the day, had to contend with some close man marking from Phiri and Linyama.
Mahachi also made sure that veteran Murape Murape kept back-pedaling at the same time restricting David Kutyauripo to the back.
Kutyauripo, who normally makes his runs from the back, could not do so because of the danger that Mahachi, the national Under-20 winger, posed.
Guide Goddard was as calm as they come for Chicken Inn at the back together with skipper Felix 'Basic Finest' Chindungwe and they kept Roderick Mutuma and Martin Vengesayi under lock and key.
On the other hand, Jaure and Zhokinyi kept Dynamos' defence in shape as they kept a close eye on Evans Chikwaikwai and Thomas Chimenya.
Dynamos had a penalty appeal turned down a minute before half time and this was after Chicken Inn's goalkeeper Liberty Chirava appeared to have pulled down Vengesayi after failing to deal with a seemingly harmless cross from Mukamba.
However, referee Happy Mabhena penalised Vengesayi for an infringement on the goalkeeper much to the disgruntlement of the Dynamos' family.
Mabhena almost failed to control the game letting players off the hook for clumsy challenges.
DeMbare's best chance of the day came in the 62nd minute when Mutuma dribbled past Jackson on the left before making a square pass to Muparati in the box who shot weakly at Chirava.
Both teams tried to open each other up through the midfield but the goal kept eluding them.
Chicken Inn's goal came from nothing as Mbiriri just made a long clearance while in his half and Mukambi challenged for the ball with three DeMbare players Jaure, Zhokinyi and Devon Chafa.
Had Dynamos' players communicated, they could have easily dealt with the ball but Chigova was out of the line and as he tried to pluck the ball, Zhokinyi poked it into the back of the net in the 79th minute.
Three minutes later, Chigova made a reflex save off a Tendai Ndoro's pile driver.
Chicken Inn were reduced to 10 men in the 83rd minute when Chimenya was shown a second yellow card for time wasting as he was being substituted for Herbert Dick.
DeMbare pushed all their players upfront in search of an equaliser with young Farai Mupasiri adding firepower to the Glamour Boys' attack.
At the stroke of fulltime, Mupasiri beat three Chicken Inn players and sent a through ball to Zhokinyi who blasted his effort over the bar with only Chirava to beat.
Another scoring chance went down the drain for DeMbare deep into injury time when Cliff Sekete did well to break an offside trap but failed to get hold of a clever pass from Mukamba.
"We want to finish the season on a respectable position and for us to achieve that we have to win our games. It was a good game which we were in charge of from the first whistle and we were always first to the ball.
"We are happy with the three points and it's a job well done by the players especially after going for three games without a win," said Mandla Mpofu, Chicken Inn's assistant coach.
Mutuma and Jackson were given red cards after the referee saw them engaging in a fist fight after the game.
Chicken Inn: L Chirava, M Jackson, B Mbiriri, F Chindingwe, G Goddard, S Linyama, D Phiri (T Ndoro, 58th minute), T Goredema, E Chikwaikwai (T Mukambi, 67th minute), T Chimenya, K Mahachi (H Dick, 86th minute)
Dynamos: G Chigova, D Chafa, Kutyauripo, D Mukamba, T Muparati (F Mupasiri, 76th minute), M Murape (C Sekete, 61st minute), R Mutuma, G Zhokinyi, M Vengesayi, P Jaure, O Mushure
Chicken Inn - 1
Dynamos - 0