Super substitute Patrick Phiri scored the only goal in the dying minutes of the match to inspire Nyasa Big Bullets to a hard fought 1-0 victory over Moyale Barracks in the first leg of the Airtel Top 8 Cup played at Kalulu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With Bullets active during the mid-week action in the Super League, Rodgers Yasin’s side came into the match on the back of a 2-1 victory over Nchalo United at the same venue.
The match got off to a good start, with the hosts seeing possession of the ball, but failing to convert any clear-cut opportunities in the opening minutes of the match.
The people”s team had the first chance at goal after Chiukepo Msowoya latched to a pass from Precious Phiri, but the forward was ultimately denied by MacDonald Harawa in Moyale’s goal.
At the other end, Gastin Simkonda forced Rabson Chiyenda into action as his low drive was parried away for a corner.
Bullets were forced to make a first half substitution after Emmanuel Zoya limped off, to pave the way for Miracle Gabeya.
The striking pair of Bright Munthali and Msowoya failed to make any impact as the Boy Boy Chima led Moyale defence stood firm to frustrate the home team.
Come second half, Deus Mkutu was introduced for the visitors while Mike Mkwate came in for Nelson Kangunje.
Moyale Barracks came out a better side in the half as Crispin Fukizi latched on to a pass by Simkonda before heading his effort at goal, but his attempt failed to beat Chiyenda.
Fukizi had a chance to put his side in the lead in the 67th minute when he unleashed a strike at goal but Chiyenda was equal to the task.
Moments later, Mkutu saw his header hitting the upright before Lanjesi’s intervention to save Bullets from sinking.
At the other end of the field, Bullets thought they had broken the deadlock when Msowoya netted past Harawa only to see the first assistant referee’s flag up for a foul on the shot-stopper.
With less than 7 minutes to play, Bullets brought in Phiri for Munthali and this change brought imminent impact as Bullets increased their pace in attack.
Just when the visitors thought the game was heading towards a draw, Bullets broke the deadlock.
A brilliant exchange of passes between Henry Kabichi and Mkwate found Phiri who made no mistake to slot past Harawa and send the red army into a joyous celebration.
That was the last kick of the match as the referee blew his whistle to mark the end of the match.
Speaking to the media after the match, Moyale Barracks coach Charles Kamanga conceded defeat but was quick to warn Bullets that the tie was far from over while his counterpart Eliya Kananji said his charges will bury the Soldiers at their own backyard.
Lanjesi was named man of the match following his solid display at the back for the hosts.
The action continues on Wednesday with lots of entertaining clashes.