The Blantyre derby showdown between Mighty Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets on a scorching Saturday afternoon at Kamuzu Stadium provided great entertainment, but just like the previous seasons, the spoils were shared following a 1-1 draw amidst violence towards the end of the match.
Unlike the past couple of seasons where the derby failed to live up to its expectations, the TNM Super League clash on Saturday was entertaining from the word go as both teams played an open game in search for goals.
Bullets coach Kalisto Pasuwa made three changes to the starting team that defeated Civil Service Club last weekend, introducing Mike Mkwate for Nelson Kangunje, Zicco Mkanda for Luke Chima for and Hassan Kajoke for Chiukepo Msowoya.
Wanderers, on the other hand, maintained the same line up that played to a 2-2 draw away to Blue Eagles a fortnight ago before they were rested last weekend.
The Nomads had a bright first 10 minutes when they controlled ball possession through Rafick Namwera and Felix Zulu in midfield, but were not clinical enough in front of goals.
Bullets regained control of the midfield, with Chimwemwe Idana and Mkwate bossing the middle of the park.
However, against run of play, the Nomads opened the scoring in the 13th minute.
A cross from Zulu into the box was missed by Nickson Nyasulu and John Lanjesi only to find the advanced Stainley Sanudi, who wasted no time by firing past Richard Chimbamba into the net, 1-0.
The goal was a wakeup call to Bullets who were now in total dominance of the game and Hassan Kajoke could have put The People’s Team level, but the striker failed to get the ball into the net after he was found one-on-one with Richard Chipuwa, only to produce a very weak shot which was easily saved by the Wanderers shot stopper.
The visitors were pressing and nearly punished Wanderers on the counter when a lovely move on 22nd minute involving McFallen Mgwira, Mkanda and Mwate through on goal released Kajoke who was let down by his heavy touch for a goal kick.
Towards the end of the half, the rivalry reached a climax when Mkwate and Namwera were on the verge of exchanging blows and they had to be separated by captains from both sides as the heat for the derby started taking toll on the players.
In the 45th minute, Chipuwa was at it again, this time around, denying Precious Sambani from scoring when his deflected goal bound shot was stopped by the goal minder and that was all for the half.
Pasuwa made a half-time substitution when he brought in Meshack Seleman for ineffective Mgwira.
Like the opening 45 minutes, the final half was played on a knife-edge, with a goal always looking a possibility, but just not materializing as both defences held firm.
In the 47th minute, Mkanda had his goal disallowed by assistant referee Joseph Nyaute who had his flag up for offside after the former Wanderers striker struck home Mkwate’s low ball past Chipuwa.
Bullets were pressing for an equalizer and nearly found one in the 57th minute when Seleman did a great job in the left flank to send an inviting pass into the six-yard boss, unfortunately Mkanda’s connection missed the upright with an inch.
Moments later, Yunus Sherrif made a clearance to save the home side when Gomezgani Chirwa delivered a beautiful cross into the box only for the defender to come from nowhere and clear the danger away from his penalty box.
The hosts thought they had scored in the 63rd minute from a corner through Peter Cholopi but the goal was disallowed by referee Gift Chicco for an infringement on Chimbamba.
In the 67th minute, Pasuwa made another change when Chimango Kayira was taken off for Ernest Petro whilst Isaac Kaliyati came on for Peter Wadabwa.
In the 68th minute, an incident occurred between Sanudi and assistant referee Bernadette Kwimbira when she raised the flag for a goal kick to the disappointment of the Nomads right-back, who was looking for a corner.
The confrontation turned ugly when Sanudi manhandled the assistant referee in full view of Chicco, forcing the referee to flash a yellow card, before sending off Ted Sumani for a second bookable offense after he exchanged words with the ref in protest against his decision.
Bullets had a one man advantage and made it count when Seleman outpaced Cholopi on the left flank, before sending a brilliant pass into the box, a very difficult ball for Sherrif to control as Kajoke advanced in the face of goal for the centre-back to drive it past his own ‘keeper in the 70th minute.
Wanderers were forced to bring in defender Lughano Kayira for midfielder Vitumbiko Kumwenda as they seemingly tried to force a draw.
Kajoke nearly doubled Bullets’ lead when his header from Chirwa’s cross missed Chipuwa’s goal with an inch, to the relief of Wanderers coach Bob Mpinganjira.
With ten minutes left to play, Wanderers fans started throwing stones into the pitch and the match had to delay for more than 20 minutes following police intervention to dispense the rioters with teargas.
However, despite returning to the field of play, the match could not continue due to the teargas that flooded the whole pitch, forcing the players to evacuate to the dressing rooms for the game to be abandoned at 1-1.
The result means the two teams have shared a point each, with Bullets maintaining their second position with 26 points from 13 matches while Wanderers are on position eight with 19 points from the same number of games