…as Karonga United move into top four…
A strike in each half from Hassan Kajoke and Chimwemwe Idana on Sunday afternoon gave Nyasa Big Bullets a 2-1 win over relegation threatened Mighty Tigers to take them level on points with leaders Silver Strikers at the top of the 2020/21 TNM Super League table.
The win took Bullets’ tally to 39, level with the Central Bankers though they have played a game more than the leaders.
Bullets started brightly and were awarded a penalty in the first minute when Tigers goalkeeper Christopher Mikuwa failed to handle Yamikani Fodya’s ball which landed on Phiri who almost scored from the situation but he was pushed down by the goalkeeper, forcing referee Mayamiko Kanjere to award the hosts the spot kick from which Kajoke stepped up to slot past the shot-stopper, 1-0.
Bullets should have doubled their lead in the 9th minute when Kajoke made a brilliant run to the right flank before delivering a cross to Msowoya whose weaker shot was easily saved by Mikuwa for a corner kick which had no impact as Tigers regrouped to clear the ball away from their area.
At the other end, Chikaiko Batisoni forced Richard Chimbamba into making his first save when he out-powered Fodya to release his shot from the edge of the penalty box for a corner.
Bullets were playing too deep and invited pressure from Tigers who were in control of the match but failed to capitalize as Nickson Nyasulu’ led defence stood firm to frustrate the visitors.
In the 36th minute, Phiri’s long range shot was saved by Mikuwa, who, despite his earlier mistake, was minding his goals posts very well.
Towards the end of the first half, Msowoya was stretchered off after sustaining an injury whilst Tigers’ Jafali Maunde suffered an injury which saw him playing the remaining minutes with pain after he was fouled by Fodya who got yellow carded in the process.
In the second half, the hosts came out blazing with a scintillating performance which saw Kajoke, Nkhoma and Idana creating chances but weren’t good enough to beat Mikuwa.
In the 49th minute, Gomezgani Chirwa was replaced by MacFallen Mgwira following a dangerous play by Anthony Namwera.
Bullets were able to cement their lead in the 53rd minute through Idana.
A brilliant exchange of passes between Idana, Kajoke and Mgwira released the midfielder who made no mistake to put the ball into an empty net after Mikuwa’s advanced attempt to save the situation for the ‘Kau Kau boys’, 2-0.
This prompted Tigers coach Trevor Kajawa to bring in Coradzo Zonda, Blessings Chilembwe and Fatsani Chilikumtima for Jones Kanyumba, Maunde and Matthews Nyirenda.
Bullets were in cruise control of the match and should have sealed the victory in the 59th minute through Kajoke whose powerful shot from the outside the 18-yard box was saved by Tigers goalie for a corner.
In the 62nd minute, Batisoni caught Sankhani Mkandawire napping in the line of defence but his effort was well handled by Chimbamba who was in control of every dead ball situation in his goal area.
Pasuwa made a change in the 67th minute when he introduced the newly signed left back Eric Kaonga for Fodya and Paul Kansungwi for Petro as he looked at increasing his attacking options upfront.
Kajoke was doing everything right and nearly found the back of the net in the 77th minute when he dribbled past Boston Kabango and Duncain Mwale before releasing a power shot which just missed Mikuwa’ goal post with an inch in an unbelievable circumstance.
Tigers then created another clear-cut opportunity through Chilikumtima who played Zonda through but his shot was saved by Chimbamba.
The visitors pulled one back in the 86th minute through a penalty which came after Mkandawire brought down Chilikumtima in the 18-yard box for Precious Chipungu to step up before slotting the ball into the net, 2-1.
As Tigers kept on pressing for an equalizer, Bullets introduced Bright Munthali for Kajoke to try to assist in the defensive phase and aft 90 minutes of play, 2-1 it ended.
This was Bullets’ 11th win of the season as they remain unbeaten at home in the on-going season.
As for Tigers, the result leaves them bottom of standings with 14 points from 18 games.
At Mpira Stadium, a brace from Alfred Chizinga helped TN Stars to collect maximum points over relegation threatened Ntopwa FC.
The result means Ntopwa FC are still winless and are stuck in the relegation zone with 15 points from 19 games whilst TN Stars have moved to 9th position with 26 points from 19 games.
At Chitowe Stadium, Mafco FC and Karonga United shared one point apiece after a goalless draw.
The result means Karonga United has collected four out of the possible six points from their Central Region trip.
The Northern Region based side is on 4th position with 31 points from 19 games, with Mafco FC now on 7th position with 26 points from 18 games.
At Civo Stadium, Kamuzu Barracks and Red Lions played to a goalless draw