Nyasa Big Bullets and Be Forward Wanderers were beaten by Chicken Inn and UD Songo respectively on the second day of Energem International Bonanza at Kamuzu Stadium.
The Nomads were the first to taste the wrath of the visitors when they lost 2-0, recording back to back defeats in the competition.
Wanderers made several changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Chicken Inn on Saturday, with Francis Mkonda, William Thole, Lughano kayira and Francis Mulimbika all given first starts against a much improved side.
The visitors scored both goals in the first half when Wanderers defence failed to deal with aerial balls from the set pieces.
The hosts tried their level best to come back into the game in the second half but the visitors stood firm to collect their first win to move into the second position ahead of the final showdown match against log leaders Chicken Inn.
In the second match, Brian Muza scored the only goal in the second half to inspire Chicken Inn to a hard fought 1-0 victory over Bullets.
Bullets fans weren’t quite gifted the bloodbath conjured up last time these two sides met in the tournament, with the hosts winning 2-1.
Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa made ten changes to the side that recorded a 1-0 victory over UD Songo on Friday, maintaining Aziz Mwakifuna in the central midfield but handing first starts to centre back Godwin Goliat who partnered Nickson Nyasulu in defence, Misheck Selemani and Zicco Mkanda.
MacPhallen Ngwira also returned to the starting eleven for the first time after recovering from his long term injury which kept him out of action for the most part of the 2019 season.
The visitors were the first to create an early goal scoring opportunity when Leroy Ndlovu swindled a low cross drive into the box for Brian Muza to make a simple finish but his effort went off the goal posts.
Moments later, Selemani was brought down by defender Guide Goddard for a freekick closer to the penalty box from which Mwakifuna curled a brilliant effort only to miss the goal with an inch.
At the other end, Richard Chimbamba produced a fantastic save to deny Muza from scoring when the hosts’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty.
The visitors should have opened the scoreline with less than five minutes to play when Chimbaba tumbled in an aerial combat, gifting the ball to Cliff Dzingati who was just unfortunate as his volley just missed the net with an inch.
There was late drama towards the end of the half as the visitors twice came close to scoring only to be denied by Goliati and Nyasulu who were very solid at the back for the peoples team.
In the second half, the visitors wasted no time to find the back of the net through a stunning counter hurricane attack down the right flank of the southern goal post.
Nyasulu was overpowered by Muza who found himself one on one with Chimbamba before slotting the ball into the net in the 56th minute, 1-0.
Chicken Inn were dominating in the middle of the park, forcing Mwakifuna to drop further into the pecking order to assist at the back as Chicken Inn pressed higher in search for more goals.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Nelson Kangunje and Luke Chima for Selemani and Ben Manyozo while the visitors introduced George Majika for Clemence Matawu.
Chima had his first shot at goal seconds after coming in but Pride Zendera was equal to the task.
Chicken Inn made two more changes in Sipho Ndlovu and Malvin Gaki for Nicole Mutatiwa and Leroy Ndlovu as they tried to keep on pressing for more goals.
Mkanda saw his header from a corner kick swaying with venom but it was too much as it went over the crossbar.
That was his last involvement in the match as he was taken out for Mike Mkwate while Righteous Banda paved the way for Patrick Phiri.
Phiri almost levelled the scoreline but he opted to shoot instead of passing the ball into the box for his colleagues to finish.
Despite Bullets pushing forward for an equalizer, the visitors stood firm to register their second win in a row and eventually regained their top position with six points ahead of their final game against UD Songo on Sunday.
As for the hosts, the defeat leaves them third in the standings with three points ahead of their final match against rivals Be Forward Wanderers on Sunday.
Despite the defeat, Pasuwa believes that his boys were impressive on the day.
“I am very impressed with the performance from the boys. These are some of the boys who haven’t been playing last year and we wanted to give them a run so that we can see whether they can fit in well with the system of the team and three quarters of the players did quite well,” he said.
However, he was quick to admit that his charges were not offensive throughout the match.
“In terms of being offensive, we didn’t do much because we were too much deep and we didn’t attack but this is a learning process and we have learnt something out of this match,” he told Bullets website.
His opposite number Joey Antipas hailed his boys for such a spirited performance against the hosts.
“When we were here last year, we didn’t register any win but today, we have registered our second win of the competition. I am very delighted with how the boys performed and we are looking forward to our final game against UD Songo on Sunday,” he said.