…as Red Lions survive KB scare…
A second half goal from Francis Mkonda saw Masters Security ending Nyasa Big Bullets’ unbeaten league run to delay them from early celebrations.
The champions-elect went into the match with a 25 game unbeaten run but the hosts had other plans as they collected maximum points to keep their top four hopes alive.
Bullets had plenty of goal scoring opportunities but converted none and they paid dearly in the second half when the Carlsberg Cup champions capitalized on a defensive relapse to find the back of then.
Bullets head coach Calisto Pasuwa made a single change to his starting eleven, bringing in Sankhani Mkandawire for Bashir Maunde as one way of stopping Babatunde Adeboye from causing havoc.
The visitors showed sense of urgency but they could not penetrate the hosts’ defence which was led by Eric Tsiga.
Chimwemwe Kumkwawa produced one of the finest saves to deny Chiukepo Msowoya from finding the back of the net after he received a cross from MacPhallen Mgwira.
Moments later, Bullets created another chance, this time around through Nelson Kangunje who blasted his effort wide off Kumkwawa’s goal in unbelievable circumstances.
At the other end, Adeboye made his first move, taunting Mkandawire who was left with no choice but to bring the Nigerian down for a foul which saw the former Mbeya FC defender accumulating his first yellow card.
Ernest Kakhobwe was called into action to deny Vincent Nyangulu from scoring following a brilliant move from Mphatso Dzongololo and Mkonda.
Bullets should have opened the scoring with less than five minutes to play before the recess but Patrick Phiri failed to score with Kumkwawa already beaten in the line of duty.
Come second half, it only took Masters Security less than seven minutes to find the back of the net in dramatic style.
The visitors failed to clear a throw in from Dzongololo, allowing Mkonda to make a simple finish as Kakhobwe was already down after he failed to stop the ball, 1-0.
Bullets’ woes continued when Mkandawire was given marching orders following a foul on Adeboye who was stretched off and was replaced by Juma Yatina.
Bullets then brought in Bright Munthali and Fischer Kondowe for Phiri and Ngwira but Masters’ defence was too solid to unlock as every move ended in disarray.
The hosts kept Bullets under pressure, and were only denied a second goal in 70th minute by Kakhobwe who produced a fine save to deny Yatina’s powerful header from finding the back of the net.
Minutes later, Msowoya showed his class outside the penalty box, but could not score past Kumkwawa who produced another brilliant save to frustrate the red side of the town.
Towards 84 minutes, Bullets kept Masters busy as they knocked on the door for an equalizer, but Kumkwawa was solid as he punched away Kangunje’s effort away from his area.
The hosts almost buried the game in the 90th minute but Yatina, with the goal wide open, headed his effort over the cross bar.
Despite Bullets’ efforts to unlock Masters Security’s defence, the fast paced 90 minutes ended 1-0 in favor of the hosts who have now managed to beat Bullets twice within a period of three weeks.
This was Bullets’ first league defeat this season but the title is for them to lose as they sit comfortably at the top with 61 points from 26 games, 9 points ahead of the second placed Be Forward Wanderers.
As for the rookies, their hopes of finishing in the top four have been boosted by the victory as they occupy 5th position with 38 points from 27 games.
In another result, Red Lions’ quest to survive the chop suffered a blow after they were held to a goalless draw by Kamuzu Barracks at Civo Stadium.
The result sees them occupying 11th position with 32 points from 28 games while KB are 6th with 38 points from the same number of games.