Bullets held but open a 12-point lead at the top

Kamuzu Barracks has become the first team to stop Nyasa Big Bullets from collecting all points at Kamuzu Stadium after forcing the reigning champions to a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon.

This means Bullets’ nine match winning streak in the TNM Super League has come to an end but their 16-match unbeaten run continues as they prepare to travel to the North next week for two crucial matches against Rumphi United and Ekwendeni Hammers respectively.

On the pitch, it was an entertaining match, coupled with some controversial decisions from Referee Kassim Shaibu who was almost manhandled by the visiting team after the final whistle and it had to take the effort of some officials to protect him from the angry Soldiers.

The visitors got off to a bright start and produced the first chance of the game after 5 minutes when Redson Nkhoma played a through ball into the path of Ndaona Daisi, who saw his effort missing Mkungula’s goal mouth with just an inch.

But then Bullets settled down and within the period of ten minutes, Herbert Wayekha blocked two goal-bound shots after an offensive display from Lanjesi Nkhoma and Gomezgani Chirwa who were attacking with speed to try to unlock the visitors’ back four.

Seventeen minutes into the match, Nthala was called into action when he produced a stunning save to deny Blessings Mpokera from giving his side a lead with a thunderous shot outside the penalty box for a corner which was easily defended by Sam Chibvunde.

Against the run of play, the ‘Chiwoko boys’ broke the deadlock in a brilliant fashion from a dead piece situation.

A freekick from the left flank was dropped into the box and headed back by Wali but loss of communication between Mkungula and his defenders saw the goalkeeper coming out of his line in an attempt to clear the ball away but he was late to arrive on the party and saw Gregory Nachipo heading over him into the net, 0-1.

This goal was all what the visitors needed in order to force Bullets into pressing the panic button and the hosts succumbed to this pressure with unnecessary mistakes especially in the midfield where Banda, Petro and Mpokera were operating from.

In the 26th minute, the Capital City Soldiers nearly grabbed their second goal when Nachipo’s corner kick was connected well into the net by Martias Nyirenda but Mkungula came to Bullets’ rescue with a save.

At the other end, the hosts had an opportunity to level but Petro headed over the crossbar when he was found unmarked by Nkhoma.

Pressure was mounting on Pasuwa’s men as KB controlled the tempo of the match with a very tactical approach through their wings who were making some dangerous runs into Bullets’ defensive zone but Zeliat Nkhoma wasn’t at his level best as he kept on losing the ball to Wali and Nickson Nyasulu in defence for the log leaders.

At 43rd minute, Petro had an opportunity to level when he beat the offside trap to receive a long ball from Chirwa but the attacking midfielder volleyed wide when scoring looked more easier than missing and that was all for the half.

In the second half, Pasuwa brought in Misheck Selemani and Henry Kabichi for Banda and Mwaungulu to try to improve his attacking options which at that moment seemed clueless.

Precious Sambani saw Nthala out of his line in the 46th minute and released a powerful shot which attracted the attention of the goalkeeper before making a save for a corner kick which they easily defended.

The hosts were now coming wave after wave but the more they attacked, the more they got frustrated with Kamuzu Barracks’ delaying tactics which resulted into too many stoppages.

Nkhoma, Babatunde, Petro and Kabichi all invaded Nthala’s goal territory but Chibvunde’s back four defended with everything to continue silencing the red side of the town.

After the hour-mark, Pasuwa brought in Hassan Kajoke for Mpokera whilst Nachipo was replaced by Sammy Chiponda after he sustained an injury.

Sambani was at it again in the 64th minute when his powerful drive was once again saved by Nthala who was having a good game against one of the toughest teams to beat in the league.

But KB’s resilience was put to rest in the 64th minute when Nkhoma tapped in from the rebound following Nthala’s failure to stop Babatunde’s powerful header from a well taken Kabichi’s set piece on the edge of the penalty box, 1-1.

With the game on level, Bullets increased their attacking prowess and attacked from all angles, with Petro coming close to scoring but he lacked the finishing composure in front on Nthala’s goal posts.

With Bullets focusing on attack, they were nearly caught off guard with a stunning counter-hurricane attack from the visitors who almost restored their lead in the 68th minute through Nyirenda whose powerful drive hit the post and Nkhoma failed to finish the ball off when it landed straight to him.

Moments later, Nyirenda came against to hunt Bullets when substitute Stainley Billiat, who came in for Nkhoma failed to clear the ball away from his area and ended up creating space for the midfielder who fired at goal only to see the ball missing Mkungula’s right hand post with an inch.

Bullets nearly scored in the 84th minute through Kabichi but his drive went over the bar when Nthala’s defence was caught off guard in the line of duty.

90 minutes on the clock, Referee Kassim Shaibu added three minutes and Bullets almost got the winning goal in the final minute of the additional minutes when Kabichi’s dangerous freekick was connected into the net by Babatunde only to be denied by Gilbert Nkhokwe who blocked the ball before crossing the line.

The ball landed straight at Selemani but he also failed to tap in when scoring seemed the easiest than blowing the chance away and that was the final action as the referee blew his whistle to mark the end of the match.

The result sees Bullets opening a 12 point gap over the second-placed Blue Eagles who are in Karonga to play Karonga United in their first match of the second round.

Follow us on Twitter: