FOOTBALL fans who opted to stay away from watching the return leg of this historic first-ever Castle Lager Premiership Mutare Derby between city rivals Tenax and Manica Diamonds definitely did not miss much as the match ended in a lifeless goalless stalemate at Sakubva yesterday.
After an hour-and-a-half of action, a handful of people that paid their way into the stadium will probably feel shortchanged after watching an uninspiring performance from both sides.
Perhaps the fact that there was nothing to play for, with the prisons wardens already relegated and the diamond miners fighting for ninth position at best, contributed to the two teams seemingly not giving it their all.
Without any hype in the build-up to the match, it was inevitable that the fixture would be a huge yawn and it eventually failed to produce a winner.
And a drab draw was the predictable result as the cross-town opponents fired blanks.
The match took a while to get going as both sides sized up each other in the opening minutes.
The few raids the two teams exchanged produced no fireworks in the final third as attackers ran out of ideas in dangerous territory.
Overall, the contest lacked intensity and the fiercely competitive spirit that is typical of derbies.
However, it was the prisons and correctional services outfit that fleetingly came to life with some neat exchanges orchestrated by their enterprising captain Panashe Mtasa who exhibited flashes of individual brilliance in the engine room.
His midfield duels with Xolisani “Scara” Moyo saw the latter being cautioned for clipping his heels after running rings around him in the centre circle.
With both sets of strikers hardly having a sniff at goal, Tenax goalkeeper Philip Makumi and his Manica Diamonds counterpart Jorum Muchambo were mere passengers as they were not involved in an meaningful action.
They had two saves to make between them in the entire opening half, with Makumi palming back into play a Michael Tapera effort from the left flank before his defence cleared their lines in the 17th minute.
On the opposite end, Muchambo summoned his agility to parry out for a corner a well-taken free-kick by Mtasa four minutes from the breather.
It, therefore, came as no surprise that by the time referee Tatenda Bvekerwa blew his whistle to signal half-time there was no goalmouth action to write home about.
The second half resumed on a pedestrian pace as neither side seized the initiative to attack and fashion out clear-cut chances. With the forwards proving unimaginative in front of goal, Takunda Mapara resorted to trying his luck from range on the hour mark as the home side searched for a breakthrough.
Gem Boys fullback Brian Chikwenya also missed the target with a ferocious shot.
Even second half substitutions by the two teams failed to turn the tide in either side’s favour.
Tenax coach Shadreck Mugurasave was left disappointed.
“Well, this was not a good result and it sums up how we have been doing over the season. I was not impressed with how we started and fared throughout the campaign. Like today, we dropped crucial points both at home and away and even ended up losing some of the games.
“This was not our year and it happens that some teams end up being relegated at the end of the season and unfortunately we were among those demoted. We cherished the experience of competing in the top-flight league and we learnt our lessons along the way,” he said.
Today’s result means Tenax could not sign out in style as they concluded the campaign second from bottom after picking two consecutive 0-0 draws and three straight losses in their last five matches after conceding 11 goals.
Manica Diamonds gaffer Jairos Tapera expressed satisfaction with the progress his charges have made under him.
Said Tapera: “We cannot complain at all for picking our third draw on the trot. You know how it is when a coach takes charge of a team in the last four or five games of the season, but I have noticed positive change. Their performance has improved.
“They are responding well to my methods and making progress. I am happy that we are building from the back going forward and have not conceded in four games. It is a process and this may take time but the results will come.”
Tapera presided over five games, managing one win, as many losses and three successive goalless draws.
Manica Diamonds finished the season in 10th position.