REFEREES stole the limelight in the Bata Stadium reopening where Castle Lager Premier Soccer League debutants Sheasham FC played to a goalless draw against giants Highlanders.
For Sheasham, it was a good start at home picking up a point against a Highlanders side that attacked and tried to pin their opponents to the backfoot from the onset.
Bosso, despite playing to a draw, held on to the top spot, tied on 15 points with Caps United.
With some bit of fair officiating and as well as avoidance of time wasting by their opponents who were cautious in their approach and were keen on avoiding defeat at the Bata Stadium that had gone for about 30 years without any activity, Highlanders could have won the match.
Some questionable officiating by centre referee Patrick Kalota and first assistant referee Nkosana Zondiwa left spectators puzzled.
Twice in the second-half, Kalota looked aside as Highlanders had genuine penalty appeals falling on deaf ears.
First assistant referee Zondiwa was out of sort, coming up with questionable calls.
But it were two second-half penalty appeals by the tabletoppers that Kalota turned down which left about 2 500 fans who paid to watch the match vexed.
Simbarashe Chimanikire of Sheasham first hacked Highlanders striker Washington Navaya in the 74th minute before committing another foul on the same Bosso player in the 85th minute.
Highlanders coach Baltemar Brito again registered his disappointment at time wasting antics deployed by his opponents.
Sheasham, who’ve picked five points in their last three matches went on to frustrate their opponents by feigning injuries.
“I feel pity for all these people who came to watch this game. Again, we saw people wasting time but nothing was added on. We take a point, but we wanted a win,” said Brito.
For his counterpart John Nyikadzino, it was a point gained.
“We knew Highlanders would attack hence the strategy to hold them especially in the opening 15 minutes. We did that and with some bit of luck, maybe we could have gotten a win as we had two chances,” said Nyikadzino.
A good crowd paid to watch the first match, with Highlanders starting brightly as they had their first attempt at goal from a third minute Godfrey Makaruse shot agonisingly going wide.
In the 16th minute, Highlanders striker Stanley Ngala was a shed late to meet a Makaruse cross from the left as Sheasham goalie Elton Sibanda produced a good save to keep his team in the game.
Sheasham’s first attempt at goal came in the 29th minute when Physwell Madhazi shot missed the target.
But as assistant referee Zondiwa flagged his flag for offside in the 33rd minute, Bosso fans reacted with boos forcing Brito to leave his area to calm them down.
Referee Kalota looked aside, ignoring penalty calls from Bosso after a Sheasham player appeared to have handled in the 39th minute.
Madhazi who was livelier for Sheasham in the midfield going to the attacking zone, came up with a number of attempts at goal but they were all dealt with by Bosso goalkeeper Ariel Sibanda.
In the second-half, Sheasham goalkeeper Elton produced a 63rd minute save to push for corner an Andrew Mbeba curler.
Rarely did Sheasham threaten Bosso, with their best attempt coming in the 83rd minute when Highlanders’ Mbeba cleared a Madhazi shot at the goal-line. From the resultant deadball, Liberty Musveure’s header was saved by Ariel to keep team in goal.