…as MAFCO downs Red Lions…
Silver Strikers’ unbeaten start to the season continued on Sunday as the Central Bankers brought to an end Civil Sporting Club’s fine form with a hard-fought 2-1 victory to dislodge Be Forward Wanderers at the top of the standings.
It was an entertaining encounter from the word go as both teams started the match on a very high note.
Both teams took their time settling into the game, but the chances began to flow at either of the field once the midway point of the first half had passed.
Just before the half hour mark, Fletcher Bandawe’s thumping header was cleared off the line by Trevor Kalema in defence for the Bankers.
However, just when everybody thought Civil would score, the opposite happened.
On 28 minutes, the Central Bankers broke the deadlock with a well-taken goal. Thuso Paipi squared the ball for Mathews Sibale, who had just enough space to squeeze a low shot beyond Tione Tembo’s right hand to make it 1-0.
The goal was a wakeup call to the hosts who upped their gear as they attacked from all angles in search for the leveler but Kalema, Mark Fodya, Herbert Wayekha and Mike Robert were too stubborn to unlock at the back for the visitors.
With less than five minutes to go before the recess, Bandawe forced his way into the box and released a powerful shot which was equally saved by Brighton Munthali in goals for the Bankers.
Moments later, Raphael Phiri combined well with Banda only to see the former blasting his effort away from the goal area.
Come second half, Civil continued to dominate the proceedings but lacked the cutting edge towards the final quarter as they kept on missing chance after chance to the relief of the Area 47 giants who were living dangerously.
Kachule was the main hub for Civil in the middle of the park as he controlled the midfield alongside Patrick Thupi to outshine Young Chimodzi Jnr.
Civil’s Phiri saw his goal-bound shot brilliantly blocked by Kalema on 65 minutes, while shortly thereafter, Katinji almost caught goalkeeper Tembo in possession near his goal line.
The Central Bankers then brought in Ronald Pangani and Kondwani Mwaila to increase their attacking prowess upfront.
With less than 13 minutes to play on the clock, Civil levelled the score line through Kachule from the spot after a handball by Wayekha inside the penalty box.
The hosts were too hot to handle as they kept on pressurizing the visitors but they were very unfortunate not to double their tally with some few minutes to play on the clock.
Munthali saved Silver’s blushes when he produced a fantastic save to deny Phiri from scoring. At the other end of the field, the Central Bankers launched a stunning counter-hurricane attack to win a free kick just close to Civil’s penalty box.
It was from the resulting free kick that the visitors scored their winning goal. Substitute Mwaila stepped in and curved his effort over Civil’s wall before beating Tembo into the top corner to send the whole stadium into a frenzy and that was the last kick of the action as the Bankers won Lilongwe City bragging rights.
The victory takes Silver Strikers top of the table with 32 points, a point above Wanderers, their next opponents in the top flight.
As for Civil Sporting Club, the defeat means they have finished the first round on 5th position with 22 points.
At Balaka Stadium, Gift Soko scored the only goal to inspire MAFCO FC to a hard-fought victory over fellow brothers in arms Red Lions to move up to 6th position.
The Salima based Soldiers will return back to their base with four out of six points following their goalless draw to Nyasa Big Bullets on Saturday at Chilomoni Stadium.
As for Red Lions, they have finished the first round on 9th position with 19 points despite starting the league on a very high note.