Late resurgence: BT United sink Red Lions in relegation duel

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Jidde Mbandambanda’s dramatic late winner sealed a vital 2-1 win for Blantyre United over fellow relegation battlers Red Lions on Saturday.

Jacob Nkhonjera thought he had rescued a precious point for the Zomba based soldiers when he cancelled out Victor Nyirenda’s opener in the 89th minute but Mbandambanda popped up a minute later to send the Chilomoni Stadium into raptures.

Blantyre UnitedIt was a day set for relegation dogfights as United in 15th faced 13th placed Lions while Premier Bet Wizards on position 14 suffered a heavy 4-1 defeat at 12th placed Masters Security, at the Dedza Stadium.

At the end of the day, the only significant change was Masters’ one step move on the table into position 11, level on 28 points with Dwangwa United who have dropped into 12th due to their inferior goal difference. The rest maintain their respective positions.

But it was Nyirenda’s goal at Chilomoni that will arguably go down as the fastest of the season as it came barely 20 seconds from kick-off.
Straight from the start, Nyirenda dribbled past a forest of Reds defenders before slotting the ball past goalkeeper Brighton Ngwenyama.

United should have been 2-0 up 20 minutes later, but Tony Mbulu’s superb bicycle kick was controversially ruled out for offside by first assistant referee Feston Kusekuse.

In the first half, the visitors rarely produced the form that saw them hand Silver Strikers their first and only defeat of the season a few weeks ago. But they raised their game in the second half forcing United into defensive mode as winger Willard John stood out for the Soldiers.

However, they could not conjure any clear cut chances as the United rear-guard, marshalled by the evergreen Aubrey Chafewa stood firm.

Their pressing and probing was rewarded with just a minute to go before the final whistle when Raphael Mandanda was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.

Nkhonjera who had replaced Hastings Kapenuka in the first half made no mistake from 12 yards out.

But the drama wasn’t over yet.

United called on their own substitute Mbandambanda, who on the stroke of full time, intelligently connected the ball home from a free kick, seemingly from an offside position.

Scenes of joy followed from the stands to the United bench with coach MacDonald Mtetemera running down to the corner flag to join his boys in celebration.

The victory is United’s second in a row, coming after last week’s 0-1 success over Chitipa United as their late resurgence continues.

And according to Mtetemera, his boys are now playing to instructions.

“The lads are now playing the way I want it. They are playing with the hunger and purpose. I told them not to give up until our last fixture of the season and they are doing exactly that. We say no to relegation this season and we will achieve that,” challenged Mtetemera.

A frustrated Lions assistant coach Pritchard Mwansa was at pains to swallow the bitter pill.

“It’s very painful to lose a game we dominated. But the second assistant referee also let us down on United’s second goal. That should have been offside. But there is nothing we can do about it, we have to go back and plan for the remaining 6 matches because we are in danger of going down to the lower league. But we will fight on until the last day,” vowed Mwansa.

The win comes two days after Capital Oil Industries signed a deal with Blantyre United to pay the players’ games bonuses for the remaining league games.

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