Nyasa Big Bullets rose to the top of the Super League with a workmanlike 3-0 midweek win over Ntopwa FC at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon courtesy of Hassan Kajoke’s first time ever hat-trick.
The defending champions have 42 points from twenty games and lead Silver Strikers with just two points though they have now played a game more.
Ntopwa FC dominated ball possession but Bullets made sure that a repeat of the first-round match which ended 1-1 was never experienced again.
In the 18th minute, Kajoke volleyed past the advanced Richard Mwaila after a mistake by Kingsley Ben and Lloyd Mugala who lost the ball to Zicco Mkanda before setting up Kajoke for the goal, 0-1.
Idana nearly made it 0-2 moments later when he snatched the ball away from Ben and his run into the box was challenged by Mwaila who came out top to save the situation for the hosts.
Ntopwa FC created their first opportunity in the 26th minute through Hendrix Misinde who received a throughball from Mphatso Magaleta only to be denied by Richard Chimbamba.
The hosts brought in Ellard Chigwetsa for Kondwani Saizi in the 33rd minute as he was completely marked by Precious Phiri.
Towards the end of the half, Eric Kaonga, who was handed his first start after joining Bullets from Ekwendeni Hammers last month, had his shot well saved by Mwaila for a corner which had no impact at all as the hosts survived the assault.
The two teams made changes at halftime, with Happy Kasamba being introduced for Ben whilst MacFallen Mgwira came in for Mkanda as Bullets increased their attacking options.
However, it was Ntopwa FC who kept on dominating through Kondwani Kumwenda in the middle of the park.
Bullets nearly conceded in the 60th minute when a cross from Lameck found Magaleta in the box but the winger sent his header away from Chimbamba’s goal posts.
Bullets posted a response a few minutes later, but the chance came to nothing, Kajoke firing wide of the left-hand post with a speculative shot from outside the box.
At the other side of the field, Misinde tried his luck from 35 yards out in the 58th minute, but Chimbamba was alert to the danger, saving the ball in the top-left corner.
As Bullets tried to attack in search for the second goal, the hosts made things very difficult as they kept Kajoke at bay, clearing every dead ball away from their area.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa made a double substitution by introducing Alick Lungu and Paul Kansungwi for the injured Seleman and Mkwate in the 65th minute.
Once again, Bullets created another goal scoring opportunity in the 67th minute but Kaonga’s shot inside the box was well saved by Mwaila for a corner.
Bullets nearly got punished for their wastefulness in front of goals in the 70th minute when Magaleta rose to the occasion with a brilliant header which missed Chimbamba’s left-hand post with just an inch to the relief of Pasuwa’s led technical panel.
The hosts made another change in the 78th minute by introducing Clever Chikwata for Arthur Moffat.
It was Bullets who nailed the result in their favor in the 81th minute from the spot following a hand-ball by Lameck, allowing Kajoke to step up before slotting the ball past defenseless Mwaila, 0-2.
Pasuwa brought in Ben Manyozo for Chimango Kayira in the 87th minute to assist in the defensive phase of the match.
And it was Kajoke who completed his hat-trick in the third minute of the added time with a scintillating finish after he was found unmarked outside the penalty box to send the ball past Mwaila into the bottom corner, 3-0.
The result was enough to take Bullets to the top of the summit for the first time this season.
The People’s Team have 42 points from twenty games from which 37 goals have been scored.
Bullets will travel to Lilongwe for another league game against Civil Sporting Club on Saturday afternoon.
It was a day to remember for Kajoke who took his tally to 10 goals in the current season.
As for Ntopwa FC, the result sees them stuck in the relegation zone with 15 points from 20 games.
At Mpira Stadium, a strike in each half from Francis Mkonda and Misheck Botomani handed Be Forward Wanderers a 2-0 victory over Red Lions to dislodge Ekwendeni Hammers into the third position with 34 points from 20 games.
Mkonda scored in the additional minutes of the first half after he was introduced for the injured Vitumbiko Kumwenda.
Botomani made sure that the result was in their favor when he doubled the Nomads’ lead with less than 20 minutes to play.
The Zomba based Soldiers have now dropped further into 10th position with 25 points from 19 games.