Chicken Inn proved too hot for struggling Shabanie Mine in a one-sided contest at Maglas Stadium yesterday, scoring a cool three goals, a victory that saw the Joey Antipas-coached side keeping pace with pacesetters in the league’s intriguing title race.

After log leaders FC Platinum and second-placed Ngezi Platinum Stars had won their respective matches on Saturday, the Bulawayo side needed to respond and keep their unlikely hopes of snatching the title from the leading teams.

Against a financially-struggling Shabanie Mine, who had not trained together for the past few weeks as players protested over unpaid salaries, Chicken Inn were by all means expected to romp to victory.

And after a battling first half when the visitors created chances that they failed to put away, the gulf in quality eventually played out in the second half with a dominant second half performance which they capped up with three goals.

For all the chances they created, Chicken Inn took the lead in fortuitous circumstances when a Denzel Taderera deflected a Darryl Nyandoro’s shot into his own nets on the 51st minute.

One became two a minute later when Innocent Mucheneka volleyed into the nets after some good work by veteran Clement Matawu.

Substitute Obadiah Tarumbwa put the game beyond doubt with a powerful header from an Obrey Chirinda cross with nine minutes remaining on the clock.

With the victory, the 2015 league champions remain in contention for the title with 40 points, seven behind Ngezi Stars, and nine adrift of the other platinum team.

Antipas was naturally elated with the victory.

“We did well and surely we deserved this win,” he said.

“The team has been playing well up to this day. The goal is to win every game left and with this kind of performance we are in the right direction. It was a tough game but am impressed with the performance of my players.”

Moreso, the victory could prove a moral booster to Antipas’ men who face Ngezi Platinum Stars next, in a match that could shape or break their season. A victory here and they would continue to believe, but a defeat will effectively extinguish the team’s hopes this season.

With each passing defeat, Shabanie Mine continue to sink deeper into the relegation waters, but their gaffer Alexio Sigion is refusing to throw in the towel, just yet.

“What do you expect from a team that has trained twice in 14 days? He asked rhetorically. “But we are not losing hope because each game is different. We tried our best today but lost. We take lessons from these mistakes and life goes on. Such is football, so I look forward to an improvement in the next game,” he said.

The Chinda Boys are second from the bottom on the log table, with 15 points, and if the trend continues like this, they would be definitely be one of the four teams that would kiss good bye to premier league football at the end of the term.

They were pathetic yesterday and their only meaningful chance in the whole match came on the 40th minute when Nigel Papias made a brilliant turn and unleashed a shot, but Chicken Inn goalkeeper Prosper Zendera was equal to the task.

Teams

Shabanie Mine: B Temera, L Manyande, P Muzondo, D Mpofu, P Siziba ( TDlakama, 54′, (T Mtombeni 77′), M Murimi, F Muza (P Shoko, 88’), T Rukanda, N Papias, R Sibanda.

Chicken Inn: P Zendera, P Bernard, B Nyahunzvi, D Nyandoro (N Mutatiwa, 76’), M Jackson, S Munawa, G Majika (K Nasama 80’), I Mucheneka, O Chirinda, C Matawu (O Tarumbwa, 68’), L Sithole

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