Nyasa Big Bullets juggernaut kept rolling forward on Wednesday with a dominant 3-1 victory over Red Lions in their TNM Super League clash at Kamuzu Stadium.
Alick Lungu, Hassan Kajoke and Babatunde Adepoju were all on target for The People’s Team, who now have 17 wins and four draws from 21 matches played this season and they remain the only unbeaten side in the top flight football.
A fourth consecutive league title looks like a mere formality for the Blantyre giants, establishing a ten-point lead over the second placed Kamuzu Barracks who have also played two games more than the log leaders.
The defending champions started brightly and Kajoke had the first chance of the game in the first minute, but he volleyed over the bar from a Patrick Mwaungulu’s pass.
Anthony Mfune had an opportunity to give Bullets a lead but the forward failed to connect an excellent pass from Kajoke who had dribbled past Hankey Machira.
On 13th minute, Kajoke was denied again by Mathews Boloweza after his powerful header from Mwaungulu’s well taken corner kick beat goalkeeper Clement Mlomba only to see the defender clearing the ball before crossing the goal line.
Bullets kept on attacking and they became vulnerable in defense when Boloweza delivered a dangerous cross from the right flank to Boniface Kaulesi who made the first time connection only to miss Richard Chimbamba’s left hand post with an inch.
Bullets kept on knocking and in the 22nd minute, Idana was played by Gomezgani Chirwa but the midfielder was brought down by Yamikani Manondo just closer to the 18-yard box for a freekick to the hosts.
Mwaungulu stepped up and curved over Lions’ defense only to call Mlomba into action with a brilliant save for a corner which the visitors easily defended.
Against the run of play, the Zomba based Soldiers took a lead in the 25th minute.
Boloweza was at it again as his cross into the box from the right caught Kesten Simbi’s led defense napping in the line of duty and reached Moses Nankumba who used his chest to beat Chimbamba to send the ball into the net, 0-1.
Bullets almost responded moments later when Chirwa made a good run and delivered an inviting cross to Mfune who did everything right but Mlomba was equal to the task with a save.
But The People’s Team leveled in the 31st minute through Lungu who was played by Idana before beating Boloweza and produced a powerful shot which was just too strong for Mlomba to save, 1-1.
This goal brought some relief to the home fans as they saw their team attacking in search for more goals before the half time break but the partnership of Kajoke, Mfune and Mwaungulu lacked the finishing composure in the final third.
Thrice, left-back James Mwetse made some critical interventions in the box to deny the home team from taking a lead.
Bullets’ last glorious opportunity of the opening half came on 44th minute when Mwaungulu was set through by Idana and he was in a one on one situation with Mlomba but his weak shot was easily saved by the shot-stopper who was the busiest of the two goalies. That was all for the half and Red Lions would have been the happier of the two teams as the game remained 1-1 going into the halftime break.
It all changed after the interval though, as Bullets doubled their tally in the 53rd minute.
It all started when Kajoke’s goal-bound shot was deflected for a corner kick by Machira.
It was from the set piece which was played by Mwaungulu that Kajoke produced a powerful header to beat Mlomba in an aerial combat to send the ball into the net, 2-1.
That was his final involvement of the game as he was replaced by Babatunde to try to add more goals, may be in the quest for the Golden Boot award.
And Babatunde had his first chance of the match moments later when he was to the receiving end of Mfune’s low cross pass into the box but Mlomba once again came to the visitors’ rescue with yet another save.
The Lions goalkeeper was called into action again between 63rd minute to 65th minute when he, twice, denied Bullets from putting the game to rest when he firstly saved Mfune’s dangerous ball into the box before rescuing the visitors again to deny Babatunde from registering his name on the score-sheet with another fantastic stop.
At the other end, Nankumba had his brilliant header well saved by Chimbamba after a cross from Mwetse caused panic amongst Bullets defenders.
The Soldiers brought in James Gondwe for Kaulesi whilst Eric Kaonga replaced Lungu on 70th minute to try to close the gap which had seen Boloweza making advances from the right flank.
Mwaungulu, who was named man of the match, combined well with Idana and Petro but the winger, who successfully opened the visitors’ defence saw his weaker shot well saved in the 73rd minute.
There was a period in which the Zomba based Soldiers dominated by keeping possession but their crosses into the box were directed at Bullets defenders who easily cleared any threat away from the goal area.
Bullets made a double substitution in Lanjesi Nkhoma and Henry Kabichi who replaced Petro and Mfune whilst Ronald Pangani came in for Humpreys Minandi for Red Lions.
Bullets nailed the game in the 88th minute when Babatunde beat the offside trap before slotting the ball past Mlomba from Mwaungulu’s excellent delivery into the 18-yard box from a corner kick which was first cleared away by Mwetse only to land straight at the winger who sent it back for the forward to score his 12th goal of the season and Bullets’ 52nd goal in the ongoing season.
The goal triggered some protests from the visitors who thought the striker scored from an offside position and Mlomba was cautioned and the goal stood for Bullets to collect another important three points, taking their tally to 55 points with nine games left to play.
As for the Zomba based side, the latest defeat, which has come three days after losing 2-0 to Blue Eagles, leaves them in 13th position with 25 points from 25 games.
Up next for the defending champions is another home fixture against Civil Service United before traveling to Mpira Village to play Sable Farming on Wednesday next week.
Two wins from these two games will surely take them closer to their 16th league title.
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