A second half own goal from Collins Okumu inspired Chitipa United to a hard-fought 1-0 home victory over defending TNM Super League champions FCB Nyasa Big Bullets at Karonga Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Northern Region based outfit became the first team this season to beat both Wanderers and Bullets in a row and ironically, all the winning goals were scored by the opponents’ defenders.
The People’s Team was one of the two teams remaining without a defeat after seven games in which they won five and two draws before facing the Northern Region based outfit.
It was also the first time for Bullets to lose to Saturday’s opposition since their on and off stay in the top flight football.
Kalisto Pasuwa made three changes to the side that defeated Red Lions last week, with midfielder Mike Mkwate returning to the first eleven after recovering from a viral infection. Anthony Mfune replaced Lanjesi Nkhoma and Blessings Mpokera replaced Gomezgani Chirwa who missed the trip due to illness.
The hosts made only one change to the side that won last week, with Peter Mughogho replacing Mabuchi Msiska in front.
It was a match under heavy winds that disturbed the flow of the game, with both sides looking to get an early goal to settle into the encounter.
The hosts, who were motivated with their 1-0 away win to Bullets’ rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers last week, started well, controlling the game in the opening stages. Kenson Mlenga had the first opportunity to test Richard Chimbamba, but let down as his weaker shot was easily saved by the shot-stopper.
Chances were very few as the wind made it very difficult for both teams to create meaningful chances, and secondary balls were the order of the day.
Blessings Mpokera came to Bullets’ rescue in the 21 minutes when he made a timely clearance from Ghedo Lorenzo’ dangerous cross into the box, which almost found Mlenga unmarked inside the six-yard box.
Bullets had their first clear-cut chance in the 36 minutes when Ernest Petro released Maxwell Phodo to the right, and the striker found himself in a one on one situation, the goalkeeper George Chikooka who won the contest with a brilliant save.
The two teams went to the recess at 0-0.
In the second half, Bullets started brightly as they tried to play their usual passing game, but nothing was materializing as the dry pitch and the winds became a stumbling block.
But the hosts seemed to have mastered the art of playing under such conditions as they pressed from all angles in search of the opening goal.
After a sequence of counterattacks led by Rajab Nyirenda, Bullets’ Clyde Senaji rose to the occasion with more timely clearances to frustrate the hosts who were very dominant.
It was a bright start full of intent and ambition from MacDonald Mtetemera’s charges, racing into Bullets’ half of the back of their counter pressing, though they couldn’t fashion a chance as the visitors’ defense regained position in the defensive area.
The hosts were finally able to break the deadlock in the 59 minutes in a similar way they did a week ago at Kamuzu Stadium.
Nyirenda’s dangerous freekick from Bullets’ defensive left flank was connected into the net by our own defender Collins Okumu, 1-0.
Pasuwa then made three changes when he brought in Yamikani Fodya, Nkhoma, and Kajoke for Frank Willard, Mfune, and Phodo to try to push for the much needed equalizer.
Nyirenda had another opportunity to double his side’s lead when he produced a ferocious shot outside the penalty box only to be denied by Chimbamba for a cornerkick, which was easily defended by the visitors.
Bullets kept on pushing for the equalizer, but Chitipa’s defensive duo of Chris Lwemba and Lamson Lukali did a very good job as they closed down all the spaces for the visitors to create scoring chances.
Lwemba nearly found the back of the net in the 68th minute when his long-range freekick was well saved by Chimbamba, who was the busiest of the two goalkeepers.
With 20 minutes left to play, Pasuwa brought in MacFarlane Mgwira and Chawanangwa Gumbo for Mkwate and Mwaungulu to improve his attacking prowess.
Mgwira almost equalized in the 74th minute when he was at the receiving end of Nkhoma’ pass but his goal-bound shot was blocked by Lwemba for a cornerkick, which they easily dealt with.
The clock was ticking very fast for Pasuwa’s charges as he threw everything up front in order to get the equalizing goal, but the hosts never opened up and defended with maturity to safeguard their slender lead.
A freekick by Fodya outside the penalty box in the 84 minutes missed Chikooka’s goal post with an inch.
Bullets had the final chance in the 88th minute when Kajoke was found unmarked by Mgwira, but the forward was late to make a decision and allowed Lwemba to make another important clearance.
Bullets were in search of an equalizer. However, there was less fortune for the defending champions as the referee Newton Nyirenda blew his final whistle to mark the end of the match after multiple attempts by the visitors to share the spoils.
The defeat means the defending champions are still topping the standings with 17 points from eight games, but this will depend on Silver Strikers’s result away to Kamuzu Barracks on Sunday.
The Central Bankers are second on the table with 15 points from seven games.
The win sees Chitipa United moving into fourth position with 13 points from eight games.
At Chitowe, Prichard Mwansa’s Mafco FC registered two back-to-back victories for the first time this season after beating Moyale Barracks 1-0.
Dan Chimbalanga scored the only goal of the match ten minutes into the second half.
The win saw Mafco climbing up the radar into 6th position with 11 points from eight games whilst the Mzuzu based soldiers dropped down to 8th position with 10 points from the same number of games.
At Mpira Stadium, a strike in each half from Robert Saizi and James Tambwali secured all the points for Bangwe All Stars as they defeated Red Lions 2-0.
The win was a relief to the rookies who moved out of the drop zone into 11th position with nine points from eight games, but as for the Zomba based military side, the latest defeat leaves them into 15th position with just four points from the same number of games.
At Nankhaka, a lone second half strike from Chikondi Mvula was enough to inspire Blue Eagles to a hard-fought 1-0 win over struggling Extreme FC, who remains winless and sits on 16th position with two points.
The win moved Eagles to fifth position with 11 points from eight games.
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