..Red Lions come from behind to beat Karonga United
Perhaps the ‘Bullets Nkumadzulo’ slogan is what pushes FCB Nyasa Big Bullets to keep on pushing for a late goal despite the odds not favoring them as The People’s Team secured an important win against Bangwe All Stars through Patrick Mwaungulu’s late goal to move within three points of Mighty Mukuru Wanderers’ reach in the TNM Super League match played at Kamuzu Stadium.
The People’s Team was coming from a 4-0 hammering at the hands of TP Mazembe in the CAF Champions League last week, but they made amends with a late winner in a match which they mostly dominated in the second half.
The visitors were a better side in the opening half through their high intensity football, which originated from the back into the transition, and they caused a lot of havoc to Bullets’ defence.
For the opening 15 minutes of the match, no goalkeeper was tested, with the middle of the park being the most active area as the midfield battle intensified between Ernest Petro and Innocent Msowoya.
But, the game opened up to the visitors who increased their attacking efficiency and pace to unlock Clyde Senaji’s led defence that resulted into the first powerful shot at goal from Robert Saizi and from the rebound, Kondwani Chilembwe fired wide.
At the other end, Bullets nearly capitalized from Bangwe All Stars’ counter attack through Mwaungulu who won the ball and made his way into the visitors’ half, only for Maxwell Gasten to lose possession when the hosts’ attackers had already outnumbered the visiting side.
This mistake nearly punished Pasuwa’s charges as James Tambwali released a thunderous shot at goal only to be denied by Rabson Chiyenda, who, at this moment, was the busiest of the two shot-stoppers, and from the rebound, Chilembwe missed again, to the relief of the home supporters.
Bangwe All Stars kept on knocking at Bullets’s door, and in the 30th minute, Saizi delivered a very dangerous cross into the six-yard box and found Friday Osagie, who was unmarked. The Nigerian fired at goal, but he was denied by Chiyenda, who produced a brilliant save to keep his side into the lead.
Had it been the visitors were clinical enough, they should have had three goals against nothing from Bullets who had no shot at goal in the entire first half.
The day kept on worsening for Bullets following an injury to Petro, who was fouled by Msowoya. Pasuwa replaced him with Willard.
The coming in of the holding midfielder improved the hosts’ performance as they started pressing from all angles in search of a goal, and at this point, Bangwe’ midfield was neutralized and the supply lines to Emmanuel Lino and Saizi was completely cut off.
However, there was still no shot at goal from Bullets who kept on passing the ball around but lacked the finishing composure in front of goals, making Ellias Missi a spectator in the entire 45 minutes of the match.
Sensing danger, Pasuwa had to introduce Banda and Nkhoma for Phodo and Righteous Banda to improve his attacking prowess.
These changes was all what Bullets needed as they improved in all areas and started creating goal scoring chances, but the visitors defended with everything to frustrate the home fans who were now having hope of getting something out of the game after a disappointing first half.
In quick succession, Mfune and Nkhoma fired over the crossbar when Bullets pounced on Abel Mkandawire’s charges through two stunning counter-hurricane attacks orchestrated by Mwaungulu who was a marvel to watch throughout the match.
The visitors sat back to defend against a now improved side, thereby inviting pressure from Bullets players who were now pushing for a goal, knowing how intense the title race is at the moment.
Mkandawire brought in Mathews Masamba for Chilembwe to fix their midfield, which was in taltars and controlled Willard, who ensured that every ball was in his hands.
In the 61st minute, Mwaungulu was denied by Missi’s excellent save when he was set through by Mfune. The evidence was clear that Bullets was now dominant as the visitors were all behind the ball in their own half.
Moments later, Nkhoma’s powerful shot was also well saved by Missi, who, at this hour, was now the busiest goalkeeper, taking over from his colleague who was now enjoying his side’s dominance.
With 20 minutes left on the clock, Pasuwa brought in Ephraim Kondowe for Mfune, with the intention to attack and find the much needed goal.
Knowing how Bullets presses whenever they are looking for a goal, Bangwe All Stars started some delaying tactics to kill off the tempo of the match as they opted for a point rather than giving all the points to Pasuwa’s charges.
But they couldn’t do this for long as they conceded in the 79th minute in a dramatic fashion.
Missi, who was having the best game of his life, did the ‘Onana’ when he directly passed his long clearance to Mwaungulu, who wasted no time by releasing a beautiful volley to put the ball into an empty net, with the goalkeeper nowhere near his line of defense, 1-0.
This goal aroused Bangwe’ tempo and they stepped up in order to find the equalizing goal.
Mkandawire brought in Osman Akimu and Ayo Segun Balogun for the injured Lino and Tambwali.
But this did not stop Bullets from attacking, and twice, Kondowe and Mwaungulu combined well to force the visitors to commit some errors, one being Missi’s failure to clear a back pass that resulted into a corner that was well defended by Talandira Chigaula.
In the additional minutes, Bullets survived a scare. A throughball from Saizi found Osagie unmarked in the box, and the striker released a very powerful shot that was well blocked by Senaji for a cornerkick.
The set piece almost resulted into a goal when Balogun produced a very powerful header only to be denied by Nickson Nyasulu’s million dollar clearance before the ball crossed the line, surely, this won it for Bullets as referee Mayamiko blew his whistle to mark the end of the match.
The result sees Bullets moving into the second position with 43 points, three points behind log leaders Mighty Mukuru Wanderers who have played three more games than the defending champions.
Next on the menu is the FDH Bank Cup final against Mafco FC at Bingu National Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
At Karonga Stadium, three late goals in the last ten minutes of the match inspired Red Lions to an important 2-3 win over Karonga Stadium.
The hosts had taken a 2-0 lead through a brace from Ellie Kayombo but Fred Banda, Deus Mkutu and Mike Kaziputa staged a stunning comeback with less than five minutes left to play to take all the three points as they keep on fighting the relegation battle.
The soldiers are still stuck in the bottom three with 21 points from 24 games, while Karonga has dropped into sixth position with 33 points from 25 games.
At Chitowe, a goal each from Bernard Chimaimba and Prince Kachere inspired Mafco FC to a comfortable 2-0 win over Ekwendeni Hammers to move up to 7th in the standings with 31 points to stay away from the drop box.
It was a match which the hosts dominated but they were unable to break the deadlock up until the final minute of the first half which saw them finding the back of the net through Chimaimba before Kachere’ late winner to comfortably walk away with all the three points.
The defeat leaves Hammers into 12th position with 29 points, four points above the relegation zone from 25 games.