…as Civil fail to dislodge Wanderers….
Nyasa Big Bullets have opened up a three-point lead over Silver Strikers at the end of the first round in the TNM Super League thanks to a hard fought 1-0 win over Blue Eagles on Saturday afternoon at the Mulanje Park Stadium.
It wasn’t an entertaining clash especially in the first half as the visitors were too defensive to frustrate the home fans.
This was a second meeting between the two teams after the Airtel Top 8 Cup final which Eagles won 1-0.
However, none of the teams were able to break the deadlock in the entire 45 minutes of the encounter.
Bullets’ closest chance came inside the opening 5 minutes of the half when Fischer Kondowe’s cross met Bright Munthali who failed to put the ball into the back of the net.
Eagles registered their first shot at goal after the half hour mark through Gregory Nachipo whose low effort was easily saved by Rabson Chiyenda.
Come second half, there was nothing more to write about as both sides were opting for aerial balls hence no clear cut chances in the early stages of the half.
Bullets’ midfield comprised of Henry Kabichi and Nelson Kangunje failed to keep hold of possession, forcing Chiukepo Msowoya and Munthali to drop down further in search for the ball.
At the other end, Nachipo and Vitumbiko Kumwenda combined well to release Micium Mhone who drafted his effort straight to Chiyenda.
Eagles then introduced Chisomo Chilasa for Kumwenda while Bullets introduced Mike Mkwate and Ernest Petro for Kangunje and Munthali respectively.
Bullets’ new men in the field made an immediate impact as they combined well to release Kondowe whose cross met Phiri but the former Premier Bet Wizards forward fired straight at John Soko.
Moments later, the visitors were awarded a free kick outside the penalty box for which Maxwell Salambula stepped in only to see Chiyenda producing a fantastic save.
Bullets then made their final substitution of the day, introducing Precious Phiri for Mussa Manyenje.
Eagles were under pressure as Bullets stepped up in search for the winning goal and they almost conceded when defender Wonder Jeremani failed to clear a long ball from Chiyenda but he was saved by the advanced Soko who was fast enough than Phiri.
With less than 10 minutes to play, Bullets were in front to send the whole stadium into a massive celebration.
A through ball from Petro found Phiri who wrestled past Jeremani before unleashing his low cross drive past helpless Soko into the net, 1-0.
Bullets were on fire and they almost sealed the game moments later when Phiri’s effort struck the woodwork before Mkwate who failed to score from the rebound.
Later, Mhone’s 35 metre drive was equally saved by Chiyenda for a corner and that was the last kick of the dying horse as referee Alfred Kaphathengo blew his final whistle to mark the end of the less entertaining match.
The win sees Bullets opening up a three point lead over the second placed Silver Strikers who were held to a 1-all draw by Red Lions in Mangochi.
As for Eagles, they are still stuck on 6th position with 20 points from 14 games but they can still finish the first round on a high note if they can manage to beat Nchalo United in their final match before the recess.
At Chitowe Stadium, Civil Sporting Club failed to dislodge Be Forward Wanderers in the third position after going down 1-0 to Dwangwa United courtesy of a first half strike from Hassan Upindi.
The Civil Servants are still occupying the fourth position with 24 points from 14 games but they can still go above the Nomads if they win their final game against Mzuni FC at Civo Stadium but that will depend on victory for MAFCO over Wanderers at Balaka Stadium.