Jack Chiona netted his sixth goal of the campaign as Silver Strikers recorded a hard fought 2-1 victory over ten man MAFCO FC to open up a four point gap over second placed Nyasa Big Bullets FC.
The hosts started the match on a very high note as they tried to sniff out the visitors’ weaknesses in the opening exchanges.
The Bankers had three shots at goal in the first ten minutes but they were very unfortunate as they failed to find the back of the net. However, the deadlock was finally broken in the 16th minute with a fantastic strike from Chiona outside the 18 yard box to beat MAFCO’s shot-stopper, 1-0.
The visitors’ problems were far from over as defender Zikhole Ngulube was given marching orders by referee Patrick Leo Ngoleka following a rough tackle on Duncan Nyoni.
However, the red card was a special motivation to the Soldiers who were now playing with intent and they almost pulled level just before the half hour mark but Martin Masoatheka failed to connect home from a close range.
Just when everybody thought the match was in Silver Strikers’ pockets, the visitors struck back in a dramatic and unbelievable fashion.
A well taken corner saw Silver’s goalkeeper Brighton Munthali failing to save the situation before letting the ball slip off his hands into the net, 1-1.
With a minute before the recess, Chiona was substituted for Victor Limbani following an injury. Come second half, the visitors were more offensive than the hosts but lacked the firepower in front of goal, with substitute Calista Kalinda and Masoatheka all failing to put the ball into the back of the net.
Good link-up play from Mphatso Phillimon and Limbani saw the latter registering his second shot at goal but MAFCO’s goalkeeper was equal to the task.
The visitors’ goalkeeper was once again put in a spot of bother a minute later, but he parried away Timothy Chitedze’s long-range effort.
At the other end, Munthali made amends for his first half mistake when he produced a world-class save to deny the visitors from taking the lead just after the hour mark.
MAFCO had chances from set pieces but blasted their efforts away from the goal mouth. The visitors slowed down their pace as they opted for a draw and they paid dearly for their delaying tactics when the Bankers scored their winning goal with three minutes to play.
A cross from Nyoni from a free kick found Limbani unmarked who made a cool finish to send the whole stadium into a frenzy, 2-1 it ended.
The win takes Silver four points clear of Bullets who have a game in hand. As for the Soldiers, the latest defeat leaves them bottom of the standings with 7 points from 11 games.