A first half brace from Patrick Mwaungulu inspired Nyasa Big Bullets to a comfortable 2-0 victory over TN Stars at Kasungu Stadium to move two points clear of Blue Eagles in the TNM Super League on Sunday.
Before the match, the defending champions were just a point behind Eagles who dropped points at home after playing out to a goalless draw with Civil Service United.
Head coach Kalisto Pasuwa made one change to the side that won away to Red Lions last week by handing Anthony Mfune a place in the first eleven for Lanjesi Nkhoma whilst TN Stars maintained the same line up that won to Rumphi United seven days ago.
Bullets should have taken a lead in the second minute when Hadji Wali connected well a Mwaungulu’s corner kick but it missed the upright with an inch.
Moments later, Chimwemwe Idana set through Anthony Mfune who was found in a one on one situation with goalkeeper Blackson Kotei who came out top with a brilliant save to keep his team into the game.
The visitors were knocking at TN Stars’s doors for an early goal and they should have had one in the 13th minute when Mwaungulu played through Mfune but the striker’ run was cut shot by Fred Banda who arrived early to save the situation for the visitors.
At the other end, Gomezgani Chirwa brought down Phillip Banda close to Bullets’ penalty box from which Martin Msewa stepped up to deliver a very dangerous cross into the box to Frank Chizuze who produced a powerful header only to be denied by the post in an unbelievable circumstances.
The People’s Team broke the deadlock in the 26th minute through Mwaungulu who won the ball in the offensive half before firing at goal to beat Kotei who could do nothing apart from watching the ball rolling into the net, 0-1.
This goal kicked the hosts into gear and they could have leveled in the 32nd minute when Chizuze found his way into the penalty box before setting up Alfred Chizinga who failed to connect the ball into the net when Richard Chimbamba was already beaten in the line of duty.
This miss proved too costly for Kondwani Mwalweni’s men as they found themselves 2-0 down in the 35th minute through Mwaungulu who tapped in the ball into an empty net from Chirwa’s brilliant pass after he used his pace to outrun Msewa.
Pasuwa then brought in Alick Lungu and Misheck Selemani for Precious Sambani who looked to have suffered an injury and Mfune to try to improve their attacking options.
Bullets should have wrapped up the game in the 42nd minute when Adepoju was released to the right and was in a one on one situation with Kotei but his volley was saved by the goalkeeper who was doing well despite being exposed at the back.
In the second half, TN Stars surprised everyone when they substituted a lively Chizuze for Bismack Agyekum.
It was a half which was mostly dominated by the hosts who created lots of goalscoring opportunities but they lacked the finishing composure in front of goals.
Chimbamba did superbly well to keep out Chizinga who created a shooting space following a communication breakdown between Chirwa and Simbi.
TN Stars looked a better team and pushed men forward in attack, but this exposed their defence as Mwaungulu almost scored his third for the day when his rocket shot missed Kotei’s goal mouth with just an inch.
Mwalweni introduced China Chirwa and Shukulani Afiki for Symon Chimenya and Banda.
In the 58th minute, Chirwa tried to score from a freekick but his effort hit the wall.
Mwaungulu would have Bullets’ next chance but his effort went over the crossbar to the relief of the home team.
As TN Stars kept on pushing, Pasuwa introduced Henry Kabichi and Precious Phiri for Idana and Chirwa to try to bridge the gap between Bullets’ defence and the midfield.
In the 76th minute, Adepoju won a freekick in the attacking zone which was taken by Mwaungulu but his shot went straight at Kotei.
With six minutes left to play, Chirwa forced Chimbamba into making a save when his powerful drive outside the penalty box was well challenged by the shot-stopper.
Bullets then had their final chance in the 87th minute through Adepoju whose header went over the crossbar from Phiri’s cross.
Pasuwa made his final change in the dying minutes when he brought in Thomson Magombo for Petro who had no impact as the referee blew his final whistle to mark the end of the match.
The result means Bullets have 29 points from eleven games, two above Eagles who have 27 from the same number of games.
As for the hosts, this is their worst start to the season since their promotion into the elite league some years ago as they lie in the 15th position with 8 points from eleven games.
In other result, Sable Farming gave away a 2 goal lead to draw 2-2 against Silver Strikers at Mulanje Park Stadium.
Madalitso Chiumia and Christopher Gototo were on target for the Chiradzulu based side but a relapse in defence towards the last 15 minutes saw Stain Davie and Hardy Ngandu equalizing to share one point each.
The result means Sable Farming are 16th with 6 points from nine games whilst Silver Strikers are 5th with 16 points from ten games.