A second half strike from Mphatso Zongololo was enough to cement Epac’s place in the top flight after beating Malawi super league rookies Dedza Young Soccer 2-1 at Civo Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Abbas Makawa’s boys went into the game knowing they must win to have any chance of survival and they exactly did that when they came from a goal down to beat Dedza.
The visitors got their opener in the 8th minute through Fletcher Bandawe who connected well from a Ferguson Mtondo cross following a stunning counterattack.
Knowing that a win was a must, Epac FC pressed harder through Lanken Mwale, Mude Geoffrey and Innocent Tanganyika but the visitors’ shot-stopper Precious Chiphaka was too good between the two sticks.
Geoffrey saw his header hit the woodwork before firing wide from the rebound. At the other end, Gradwell Phiri and Jussab Mpachika combined well to release Bandawe who had his curved shot well saved by Tione Tembo in goals for Epac.
The hosts then pulled level just after the half hour mark through Mwale who beat the offside trap to slot past Chiphaka, 1-1.
The goal angered the visitors’ fans who, in protest, started throwing missiles into the pitch but the referee’s decision stood.
Few minutes later, Epac scored again through Mwale but the first assistant referee’s flag was up for an offside call though the goal scorer was not in an offside position, the first half ended 1-1.
Come second half, both teams opted to play in the middle of the park, with Dedza sitting at the back trying to defend their league status knowing that a draw was enough to see them surviving the chop.
The Dedza coach then made a change as Amadu Makawa paved the way for Chisomo Gillion as the midfield battle intensified. Minutes later, Epac’s Tembo was called into action twice within minutes to deny the visitors from finding the back of the net as Epac’s defence collapsed.
Mwale, Tanganyika, and Zongololo continued to fire on all cylinders in search of the much needed goal but Chisomo Mpachika, George Mponda, Leonard Matias and Wachimwa Sadick were too stubborn at the back to frustrate the home fans.
At 1-1, the visitors were safe but the clock was ticking very fast for Epac FC as their dream of remaining in the top flight was slowly vanishing. However, 23 minutes into the half, Epac got their wish.
A thunderous cross from Tanganyika forced Chiphaka to make a save only to see the ball landing safely in the path of Zongololo who made no mistake but to slot past the defenceless goalkeeper, 2-1.
The visitors almost responded within minutes as Gillion was found unmarked only to see his effort well saved by Tembo.
Epac were vulnerable in defence as Dedza’s attackers pressed harder in search of the equalising goal but Tembo was very much alert between the sticks as he saved his team from collapsing.
With less than 10 minutes to go, Tanganyika almost sealed his team’s victory when his effort missed the goalmouth with an inch following a brilliant display of football from Mwale and Joseph Kachule.
Dedza could have levelled the scoreline in the additional minutes through Bandawe who failed to find the back of the net with only the goalkeeper to beat and after 90 minutes of play, it ended 2-1 in favour of Epac.
The result saw Epac surviving the chop after amassing 30 points. However, Dedza Young Soccer have been relegated even though they have the same number of points with Mzuni FC since they lag behind due to an inferior goal difference.
Dedza have joined Airborne Rangers and Fisd Wizards who were dropped to the lower leagues last week.