Second half strikes from Deus Mkutu and Gastin Simkonda inspired Moyale Barracks to a hard fought 3-2 victory over TNM Super League leaders Be Forward Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The Soldiers were coming from a disappointing 4-1 defeat to Ntopwa FC on Saturday but their performance against the Nomads, especially in the second half, will forever be remembered as they turned the tables around in unbelievable circumstances.
In the first half, the visitors were playing against the wind but Wanderers could not capitalize as their striking duo of Babatunde Adepoju and Zicco Mkanda were caught offside for more than five times in the half, including in a disallowed goal which the latter scored midway through the half.
The Nomads should have taken an early lead when Mike Kaziputa’s dazzling cross was connected well by Mkanda only to be denied by the upright.
The Soldiers were failing to control the match no wonder it wasn’t a surprise to see them registering no shot at goal in the entire opening 45 minutes.
Francis Mulimbika’s 30 meter drive from a free kick forced MacDonald Harawa into producing a top class save.
With less than 15 minutes to play in half, the Nomads were awarded a penalty after Boy Boy Chima brought down Babatunde right inside the penalty box and the Nigerian stepped up to slot the ball past helpless MacDonald Harawa in goals, 1-0.
Sensing danger, Moyale Barracks substituted Innocent Kafunda for Kondwani Ng’oma as they tried to balance the midfield which was in favor of Alfred Manyozo Jnr and Francis Mkonda.
The remainder of the half played out evenly and without much further incident, although the visitors improved after their poor start to the game.
In the second half, it was now the Nomads’ to play against the wind and this was a disaster in the making for the league leaders as the visitors started to attack from all cylinders.
Lloyd Njaliwa was causing more havoc and his drive from the left flank of the field only missed the goal mouth with an inch.
Wanderers’ decision to take out Felix Zulu and Mkanda for Isaac Kaliyati and Francisco Madinga was too suicidal as they slowed down their attack in the wings, allowing the Mzuzu based Soldiers to come back into the game.
Mkutu scored the equalizer when Wanderers’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty, beating William Thole who was on holiday in the first half, 1-1.
The lead only lasted for less than five minutes as Madinga scored a beauty to restore the hosts’ lead.
Joseph Kamwendo was then introduced for Kaziputa Dave Msukwa paved the way for Wacheta Mwenifumbo.
Despite conceding, the visitors never backed down and Simkonda leveled off the scoreline with a beautiful finish when Peter Cholopi and Bongani Kaipa failed to communicate inside their own penalty box.
The Soldiers were coming wave after wave in search for the winning goal and this pressure finally paid off when Walusungu Mdoka found Simkonda in the penalty box who wasted no time by unleashing a shot which was spilled by Thole before landing on the foot of Mkutu who made a simple finish to stun the hosts, 3-2.
The Nomads tried their level best to at least force a draw but the Soldiers stood firm to secure a stunning comeback win to finish the first round on 9th position with 18 points.
As for the league leaders, the defeat hasn’t changed anything in as far as the standings are concerned but their wider gap has been reduced to just three points as the league goes for a break.
This was Oscar Kaunda’s first defeat and Wanderers’ second defeat ever since their 3-1 defeat to Blue Eagles in April.
At Kasungu Stadium, Kamuzu Barracks and Karonga United played out to a goalless draw, with the Soldiers now returning back to the second position with 30 points, just three points behind Wanderers while Karonga United are now 10th with 17 points.
At Civo Stadium, a brace from Fletcher Bandawe and a lone strike from Raphael Phiri inspired Civil Sporting Club to a 3-0 comfortable win over struggling Masters Security, who have now finished the first round in the bottom three with 13 points.
As for the Civil Servants, the win sees them maintaining their 7th position with 24 points.
The second round will kick off after a two week break.