Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves were on Saturday crowned the 2021 ThumbsUp Southern Region Football League champions after hammering 10-man Sable Farming 1-3 at Mpira Stadium.
The junior Bullets were training 0-1 at the interval, but second half-goals from Kesten Simbi, Emmanuel Savieli and Stainley Billiat gave Enos Chatama’s side a deserving victory to claim the top prize, second trophy in the season after they won Powertex Top 8 Cup.
Chatama had Chikumbutso Salima in his first eleven after missing out in the semifinal second leg win over Blantyre City a fortnight ago.
Bullets Reserves created their first chance in the 4th minute when Salima was set through by Billiat, but the forward had his shot well saved by goalkeeper Fletcher Jamali.
The visitors created another clear cut chance in the 8th minute through Billiat, who was found in a one on one situation after being set by Patrick Mwaungulu, but his volley went over the crossbar with the goalkeeper already beaten.
Chatama’s boys created more goal scoring opportunities in the opening half and Salima should have done better in the 20th minute when he delivered a ball from Mwaungulu’s free kick only to send his header over the crossbar inside the penalty box.
Bullets were left to regret when Humphrey Chimwaza broke the deadlock when he scored Sable Farming’s goal in the 38th minute following a communication breakdown between White Kisten and his goalkeeper Clever Nkungula, 1-0.
The hosts were buoyed by their goal and dominated the remaining minutes of the half, but Bullets Reserves defense got organized and prevented further damage to go to recess with only one goal down.
In the second half, Sable Farming introduced Fatsani Chilikumtima for Osman Banda as he was sitting on a yellow card.
Bullets Reserves got the leveler in the 51st minute from the spot.
A brilliant through ball from Salima to Franklin Mlimanjala caught the hosts’ defense napping and the Bullets no.10 found his way into the box after dribbling past Chimwemwe Chinamulungu, who brought down for the referee to point to the spot and reduced the hosts to ten men as the offender picked a second yellow card.
Simbi stepped up to score past Jamali, 1-1.
However, the celebration should have been short lived as the hosts launched a stunning counter attack to dismantle Simbi’s led defense and were only saved by Nkungula’s brilliant save near post to deny Chimwaza from doubling his tally from close range.
In the 66th minute, Chatama brought in Savieli for Mlimanjala and the substitute delivered what could be described as the best moment for the young winger as he netted a stunner three minutes after coming on.
A pass from Billiati found Savieli, who scripted a beautiful picture of the ultimate wonder goal – a combination of power, pace and precision in a beautiful exhibition of his star quality to release a thunderous shot which was just too much for Jamali to the far right corner, 1-2.
Chatama made another change when he brought in Frank Willard for Yamikani Mologeni to try to hold on to the lead.
Bullets Reserves hammered the final nail into Sable Farming’s coffin with another beautiful goal in the 81st minute through Billiat, who made a sample tap in from Salima’s brilliant pass into the six-yard box, 1-3.
The hosts’ defense completely failed to handle Savieli who was dribbling past them like nobody’s business and he should have added another goal in the 90th minute but his effort was saved by Jamali for a corner, which had no impact as George Nyirenda cleared the danger away from his penalty box.
Sable tried to force something out of the game but the day belonged to Chatama’ side which dominated the match especially in the second half to claim another championship.
Speaking after the match, Chatama hailed his boys for a high-spirited performance throughout the campaign.
“I am very grateful to the boys for the wonderful performances throughout the season. When we were 1-0 down, I just encouraged them to play their game and we saw how they terrorized our opponents. I am very happy for the success and I thank God for whatever has happened this season,” he said.