Gibson Nkhonjera of Red Lions challenging Hassan Kajoke

 

BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)—Nyasa Big Bullets supporters can at least afford a smile as their team managed to bag maximum three points on Thursday at Mpira Stadium in an emotional game against Red Lions.

Hassan Kajoke scored for the People’s team through a penalty after being brought down in the 18-yard box.

Bullets, going into the game after back-to-back losses, started on high note with chasing for a win to soothe the souls of their supporters who have been on hibernation following the team’s exit from the prestigious FDH Bank Knockout Cup.

Over the weekend Bullets also lost 1-0 to Moyale Barracks and played to a goalless draw with relegation bound Mzuzu Warriors to collect a point from the possible six from the Northern Region trip.

A lot of football lovers expected the hosts to capitalize on the situation but Bullets were able to recover in time and register an important win to restore their own pride which was in tartars following their visit to the North.

Red Lions were the first to create an opportunity in the 18th minute through a well taken corner kick but Richard Chimbamba came out of his line to rescue Bullets from conceding.

At the other end of the field, Bullets were awarded a free kick in the 28th minute when James Mwetse fouled Gomezgani Chirwa but Mgwira stepped up only to drive his effort over the crossbar.

Bullets had another chance in the 34th minute when a long ball from Chimango Kayira caught the hosts’ defense napping in the line of duty and landed straight at Kajoke who should have just tapped in past Jacob Kaunda but the talisman failed to control the ball until it went out for a goal kick.

Despite an intense midfield battle between Chikoti Chirwa and Idana, the two teams could not find the breakthrough as they went to recess at goalless.

Pasuwa and Alick Chirwa had to make double substitutions before the start of the final half, with Pilirani Thulu and Tatenda M’balaka coming in for McPeter Makwale and James Chirwa whilst Mcfallen Mgwira and Paul Kansungwi paved way for Meshack Selemani and Bright Munthali.

Bullets’ changes made Red Lions to start chasing the game as Selemani, Idana, Munthali and Msowoya all pressed so hard in search of the much-needed goal.

However, Bullets nearly conceded in the 48th minute when the Zomba based Soldiers caught them on the counter but Royal Bokosi was too slow to respond as he was dispossessed by Miracle Gabeya for a corner kick which had no impact as the ball landed in the hands of Chimbamba.

Moses Nankumba then replaced Henry Kamunga to try to increase their attacking options.

Referee Alfred Kaphamtengo awarded Bullets a free kick on the edge of the penalty box from which Idana stepped up to send a very dangerous ball at Kaunda’s goal but the shot-stopper did well by producing a save for a corner.

The opening fifteen minutes belonged to the visitors who were attacking from all cylinders but Red Lions’ defense which was led by Gibson Nkhonjera stood firm to frustrate Pasuwa’ men who were desperate for a win.

At 64th minutes, another free kick to Bullets left the visitors hopeless as Yamikani Fodya blasted his effort over the crossbar for a goal kick.

As the clock was ticking fast for Bullets, Red Lions regrouped and started taking the game away to Bullets through Chirwa who was now bossing the midfield against tired legs of Idana and Kayira.

A long-range effort from Nankumba missed Chimbamba’s goal post with an inch before Fodya’s intervention to block Thuli’s cross for a corner kick minutes later.

Bullets then launched a counter-hurricane attack from the left flank where Selemani was operating from and the winger combined well with Idana to release for Kajoke who made his way into the box only to be brought down inside the 18-yard box.

Kaphamtengo ruled that Mwetse ruled that Mwetse had brought down Kajoke in the area and pointed straight to the penalty spot to punish the home side for their troubles.

The victim stepped up to the plate and beat Kaunda from the spot, 0-1.

The lead should have lasted for less than three minutes as Royal Bokosi thought he had leveled only to be denied by first assistant referee Pondamali Tembo for offside, a decision which was highly protested by the Zomba based side.

Sensing danger, Pasuwa brought in Blessings Mpokera and Precious Phiri for Chirwa and Kajoke to try to defend their only goal.

Red Lions made their final changes in the 80th minute when Mathews Simbeyi and Mathews Boloweza replaced Brown Gondwe and Humphreys Minandi.

The hosts almost equalized in the 88th minute when M’balaka overpowered Gabeya to the right flank before sending a million-dollar cross which was intelligently cleared by Nickson Nyasulu for a corner.


Red Lions pushed harder for an equalizer but Bullets defended Bullets everything to collect maximum points and open up a three-point lead over the second placed Silver Strikers with five games to go.

Bullets have now 52 points from 25 games played so far.

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