Nyasa Big Bullets’ title hopes suffered a massive blow when they were held to a goalless draw by TN Stars at Kasungu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The defending league champions were coming from a 1-0 victory over Blue Eagles and had hoped to register another win over the Kasungu based side to close the gap to three with the current leaders Silver Strikers.
However, the match, which was marred with some controversial decisions from the referee Alfred Chilinda, registered no goals throughout the entire 90 minutes of play.
Hassan Kajoke had two clear cut chances in the opening ten minutes but converted none to frustrate the visiting side.
At the other end, Trouble Banda had his long-range effort missing the upright with an inch when Bullets’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty.
In the 11th minute, Meshack Seleman forced Blackson Kotie into making a save when his volley inside the 18-yard box was tipped over the crossbar for a corner which had no impact.
The visitors were pressing for an early goal and should have taken a lead in the 13th minute from a freekick which was saved by Kotei.
At the other end, Trouble Banda nearly punished Bullets in the 24th minute when he overpowered Nickson Nyasulu but his shot missed the upright with an inch.
The hosts made their first change in the 29th minute when Lewis Phiri was substituted for Arnold Masamba.
As Bullets were pressing for the much-needed goal, the hosts’ defense led by Blessings Joseph, Steve Msiska, Yamikani Bisala and Charlie Lanos stood firm to frustrate the defending league champions.
In the second half, the first clear cut opportunity fell through to Petro who forced Kotei into making a save for a corner from which Chimwemwe Idana failed to connect as the ball rolled out of action for a goal kick.
In 59th minute, Bullets made a double substitution by bringing on board Chirwa and Sambani for Kajoke and Fodya as the visitors tried to push for the opener.
As the clock was ticking fast for Bullets, Kalisto Pasuwa brought in Bright Munthali for Msowoya whilst Paul Leonard came in for the injured Bisala.
In the 66th minute, Seleman made his way into the penalty box and delivered a low cross drive which found Ngwira who shot at goal but his goal bound effort was blocked by Joseph.
Leonard forced Chimbamba into making a save when a long ball from Davie Mbunge caught Sankhani Mkandawire napping in the line of duty.
The visitors sent every player in the offensive half and they should have forced a goal in the 86th minute when Seleman’ pass into the box was well connected by Ngwira only to be denied by what looked like a handball inside the six-yard box but referee Alfred Chilinda awarded Bullets a corner, a decision which was heavily protested by the 15-time league winners.
With four minutes added on the clock, Bullets tried everything to force something out of the game but a goal was nowhere near coming as the hosts defended jealously to frustrate the Blantyre based giants and, in the end, a point each was shared between the two sides.
The result sees Bullets cutting the gap to five points but Bullets have played a game more than the log leaders.
This means Bullets have returned to Blantyre with four points from the possible six.
The People’s Team are still second with 33 points whilst the Central Bankers maintain their lead at the top with 38 points.
At Mpira Stadium, a strike in each half from Kondwani Chilembwe and Precious Chipungu inspired Mighty Tigers to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Red Lions FC.
The result sees Tigers moving up to 14th in the standings with 14 points from 16 games whilst Red Lions have now dropped to 8th position with 23 points from the same number of games.
Image credit: Nyasa Big Bullets