This was a celebratory encounter as Chiefs turned 50 years on Tuesday, January 7, and they shared this massive achievement by giving away free tickets to their fans.
The crowd at the Calabash was decent and Chiefs didn’t disappoint as they claimed maximum points to go six points clear of second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns.
Ernst Middendorp was forced to make several changes to his usual starting line-up with Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, Kgotso Moleko, Kearyn Baccus and Lazarous Kambole all cracking the nod.
Chiefs fans would have expected Dumisani Zuma to start since both Khama Billiat and Samir Nurkovic were not available for this encounter.
However, Zuma had to wait for 22 minutes before entering the pitch as he replaced the injured Kambole who had collided with Highlands Park defender Sello Motsepe.
But there were fireworks even before his introduction as both teams showed no respect to each other but remained disciplined in defence.
Tendai Ndoro, Peter Shalulile and Mothobi Mvala gave Amakhosi a torrid time in the early stages because Daniel Akpeyi, keeping his place in the starting line-up ahead of Itumeleng Khune was forced to make a great save to keep his team in the game.
Chiefs then opened the scoring in the 27th minute through Mathoho, who capitalized on sloppy defending from Highlands Park following their failure to clear Manyama’s free-kick which came off the woodwork.
This was Mathoho’s second goal against the Lions of the North this season after scoring in the first round at Makhulong Stadium
The home side continued to create goalscoring opportunities from then onwards and should have been 2-0 up after the half-hour mark but Ntiya-Ntiya took his time before taking a shot and Highlands Park recovered to sweep the ball off his feet.
Middendorp’s men had another chance to double their lead as Castro won possession outside the Highlands Park area but with only the goalkeeper to beat, the Colombian striker’s attempted shot was parried out for a corner by Marlon Heugh, much to the disappointment of Amakhosi fans out in the stands.
The second half started at a very slow pace with neither side exerting pressure, especially in the final third but the problem was in midfield where both Chiefs and Highlands Park failed to string at least 10 passes together.
Chiefs upped the ante five minutes after the restart and took control of the game, and it wasn’t surprising to see them net a second through Castro in the 56th minute.
Baccus played a pivotal role in his goal as he stood his ground to storm into the box besides being pushed in the build-up to crossing the ball to the lanky striker to finish.
Castro then made it 3-0 in the 70th minute as he nodded past Heugh from a George Maluleka corner as Highlands Park players thought their team was making a change to introduce Mokete Mogaila.
This was a massive blow in Highlands Park’s attempt to launch a comeback in the final 20 minutes as they needed to score three times to rescue a point – and it became increasingly difficult because Chiefs dominated the game with some slick passes.
Ultimately, Chiefs ran 3-0 winners to move six points clear at the top, and continue their dominance over Highlands Park who are now yet to beat the Naturena-based side in six previous outings.