Nyasa Big Bullets only managed a point against TN Stars following a goalless draw in the TNM Super League at Kasungu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
The People’s Team missed the chance to close the gap to three against Silver Strikers, who now have a five-point advantage at the top with 38 points and a game in hand over Bullets’ 33 points from 17 games.
After handing the Kasungu side a 6-0 thrashing at Kamuzu Stadium in the final game of the first-round last weekend, Bullets could not replicate the same form as the two sides met again in what was The People’s Team’s second game of the second-round after beating Blue Eagles 0-1 in Lilongwe 24 hours earlier.
Kalisto Pasuwa made four changes to the side that started at Nankhaka Stadium on Saturday by handing starts to McFallen Mgwira, Ernest Petro, Yamikani Fodya and Meshack Selemani for Gomezgani Chirwa, Mike Mkwate, Precious Sambani and Blessings Mpokera.
The visitors started brightly when a cross from Seleman in the 8th minute found Hassan Kajoke unmarked in the penalty box, but the striker, who was playing on the right flank in the 4-3-3 formation, blasted his effort over the cross bar.
In the 11th minute, Seleman forced Blackson Kotie into making a save when his volley inside the 18-yard box was tipped over the crossbar for a corner which had no impact.
Bullets continued pressing for an early goal and should have taken a lead in the 13th minute from a free kick, which Kotei saved to rescue his side which had conceded early when the two teams met in Blantyre seven days ago.
At the other end, Trouble Banda nearly punished Bullets in the 24th minute when he overpowered Nickson Nyasulu in central defence, but his shot missed the upright with an inch.
The hosts made their first change in the 29th minute when Lewis Phiri was substituted for Arnold Masamba.
As Bullets were pressing for the much needed goal, the hosts’ defense led by Blessings Joseph, Steve Msiska, Yamikani Bisala and Charlie Lanos stood firm to frustrate the defending champions and finish the game at 0-0 in the opening half.
In the second half, the first clear cut opportunity fell through to Petro who forced Kotei into making another fine save for a corner from which Chimwemwe Idana failed to connect as the ball rolled out of action for a goal kick.
In 59th minute, Bullets made a double substitution by bringing on Chirwa and Sambani for Kajoke and Fodya.
As the clock was ticking faster for Bullets, Kalisto Pasuwa introduced Bright Munthali for Msowoya whilst the hosts also made as change as Paul Leonard came on for injured Bisala.
In the 66th minute, Seleman powered his way into the penalty box and delivered a low cross drive which found Mgwira whose shot at goal was blocked by Joseph.
Leonard forced Chimbamba into making a save when a long ball from Davie Mbunge who capitalized on Sankhani Mkandawire’s failure to keep the ball out of danger.
The People’s Team kept pushing all arsenals in the offensive half and should have broken the deadlock in the 86th minute when Seleman’s pass into the penalty area was well connected by Mgwira, who was denied by a handball, but referee Alfred Chilinda awarded the visitors a corner.
With four minutes added on the clock, Bullets tried everything to push for maximum points away, hoverer the hosts defended jealously to frustrate the title holders and collect their first ever point against a side that had beaten them in all previous five meetings since joining the elite league in 2018.
Meshack Seleman was voted Man of the Match, his first accolade after joining The People’s Team from Karonga United at the start of the season.
Bullets will face Ekwendeni Hammers at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday as the race for the 2020/21 championship heats up.