Nyasa Big Bullets came from behind on Saturday afternoon to register a 2-1 victory over Civil Sporting Club and move second in the TNM Super League standings.
Muhammad Sulumba put the visitors in the lead 15 minutes in the first half and two minutes later Chiukepo Msowoya found an equalizer for The People’s Team, before Precious Sambani netted a late winner at Kamuzu Stadium.
Coming into the match, the visitors were the only unbeaten side in the elite leagu, but they met their match as Bullets maintained the eight-year unbeaten run at home.
Coach Kalisto Pasuwa made two changes to the side that beat Ekwendeni Hammers 0-1 last week in Mzuzu, with Luke Chima and Gomezgani Chirwa replacing Zicco Mkanda and Sankhani Mkandawire in the starting XI.
Bullets were in full control of possession through Chimwemwe Idana, who directed play in midfield, however The People’s Team could not unlock Lawrence Chaziya’s led defence.
In the 11th minute, Idana’s goal bound shot was well blocked by Willard Dickson. Nelson Kangunje could have gotten Bullets ahead but the attacking midfielder saw his shot sway away from Charles Swini’s goal posts.
As Bullets were pressing for an opener, the visitors got Pasuwa’s side by surprise as the former NBB striker, Sulumba stepped up to smash a 25-metre free kick into the top corner to give Civo an early lead, which only lasted two minutes.
Bullets won a throw-in and was quickly taken by Sambani who found Msowoya in the six-yard box and the veteran striker wasted no time but slot the ball past Swini near-post to make it 1-1.
The hosts were pushing for more goals and should have taken the lead in the 27th minute when McFallen Mgwira was found unmarked in the penalty box by selfless Msowoya, but the winger was too slow to make a decision and allowed Swini to regroup before making a clearance for a throw in.
Pasuwa made his first substitution in the 43rd minute when he brought in Meshack Seleman for ineffective Chima.
There was nothing more to write towards the last minutes of the half.
After the recess, Pasuwa made another change by bringing in Ernest Petro for Nelson Kangunje as he tried to increase his attacking artillery in search for a much-needed winning goal.
Unlike the first half, the second half was not entertaining as Bullets struggled to replicate their form and created fewer chances than expected despite having more attackers in the field.
Mgwira, twice, failed to capitalize when he was found unmarked in the right flank of the field, but his decision saw the ball out for a goalkick to the disappointment of the few spectators who were allowed to watch the match.
In the 62nd minute, Msowoya had a goal disallowed for offside by referee Evidence Kananji.
As the clock was ticking fast, the hosts made a double substitution, taking out Msowoya and Mgwira for Hassan Kajoke and Mkanda in 65th minute.
At the other end, the visitors created their only chance in the half when a cross from Chikondi Maloya made its way into Bullets’ penalty box in the 73rd minute, directed at Lanken Mwale, but Bullets captain John Lanjesi was right on spot to make a very good clearance.
The visitors made four substitutions, with Mathews Zaulombo, Henry Msowoya, Binwel Katinji and Dan Kumwenda all coming in for the injured Damiano Kunje, Sulumba, Mwale and Innocent Tanganyika.
The more Bullets kept on pushing for the winning goal, the more Civil Sporting Club defended with everything to frustrate the home team.
Just when everyone thought the game was heading to a draw, Bullets banged in the winning goal with three minutes to go.
A corner from Petro to Idana was laid out to Sambani, who swerved into Civil’s penalty box before unleashing a powerful shot into the back of the net.
Bullets made their final substitution in the 90th minute when injured Seleman was replaced by Ben Manyozo.
Three minutes on the clock, the visitors tried to push for an equalizer, but Bullets stood firm to collect all the important points to move second into the standings with 25 points from twelve games.
The win sees Bullets closing the gap with leaders Silver Strikers to just three points with three games to go before wrapping up the first-round.
Bullets will be away to Mighty Wanderers at Kamuzu Stadium next Saturday, before traveling to Lilongwe to face Silver Strikers the other week. The final fixture in the first-round will be at home against TN Stars.