Nyasa Big Bullets’ title hopes suffered a massive blow after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Mafco FC at Kamuzu Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to cut their lead at the top to just one point.
Bullets were three points ahead of second placed Silver Strikers with a game in hand but the draw means the title race will go down to the wire as the Central Bankers recorded an important 3-0 win over Ntopwa FC at their backyard.
Straight from their Champions League exit, Bullets were hoping to bounce back but it was never meant to be as Mafco FC produced one of their best performances this season to frustrate the log leaders who were desperate for a result.
Head coach Kalisto Pasuwa made several changes to the squad that lost on Sunday, with Precious Phiri, Blessings Mpokera, Zicco Mkanda and Yamikani Fodya all in the starting eleven.
It wasn’t a pleasant start from the hosts as they struggled to find their rythm and the only realistic came in the 8th minute when Bright Munthali’s shot came off the upright.
At the other end of the field, Bullets conceded a corner in the 9th minute which was headed into goal by Stain Malata, 0-1.
One should have turned into two as Kalisto Kalinda positioned himself inside the six-yard box but the winger misjudged a cross from the right to waste a clear-cut opportunity when the goal was wide open.
Bullets were level in the 35th minute through Babatunde Adepoju who scored against the run of play after receiving a cross from Hassan Kajoke.
Kajoke was causing havoc and nearly scored in the 38th minute but his powerful shot was well saved by Jailosi Kapalamula for a corner which had no impact as it was cleared by Yohane Malunga.
The hosts kept on pressing for another goal and should have found one in the 42nd minute but Mkanda’s shot went wide off Kapalamula’s goal.
After the recess, Bullets were dominant but to unlock Paul Ndlovu’s led defence proved too futile.
The visitors made a double substitution in the 52nd minute when Walusungu Mpata and Paul Phiri replaced Kalinda and Malata.
There was nothing tangible from the two teams, with play being delayed by several minutes due to injuries from the visiting team.
As the clock was fast ticking against Bullets, Pasuwa brought in Meshack Selemani and MacFallen Mgwira for Babatunde and Phiri as the home team wanted to increase their attacking options.
Chances were few, delays were many and the clock kept on ticking very fast as Bullets’ hope of snatching all the points were kept in limbo by the resilient Mafco FC.
In the 75th minute, Selemani conceded a freekick in a very dangerous position and it took Richard Chimbamba’s excellent timing to save the situation for the People’s Team.
Pasuwa made another change in the 79th minute when he brought in Chiukepo Msowoya for Mkanda but it was too late as Mafco FC wasted more time through delaying tactics to savage a point which was a blow to Bullets who wanted to maintain their lead going into the final three matches of the season.
The result sees Bullets still leading the standings with 56 points from 27 games, a point behind second placed Silver Strikers who won 3-0 at home to Ntopwa FC but the log leaders have a game in hand.
Their next fixture is against Be Forward Wanderers FC on Sunday at the same venue.