Nyasa Big Bullets fought back from two goals down to force a 3-3 draw against Red Lions in a TNM Super League encounter at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Coming straight from their 2-0 victory over Chitipa United last week, Head Coach Kalisto Pasuwa made only a single change by handing Zicco Mkanda a place in the starting eleven as Gomegzani Chirwa, who was used as one of the front three in the last game, went back to his wingback position to replace injured Pilirani Zonda.
Bullets were enjoying possession and should have taken the lead in the 7th minute when Peter Banda released Zicco Mkanda who could only shoot straight at Red Lions’ goalkeeper.
However, the hosts were able to break the deadlock in the 15th minute through Hassan Kajoke.
A brilliant run from Banda into the visitors’ area put Kajoke through before releasing a thunderbolt outside the penalty box into the net, 1-0.
Soon after the goal, it started raining heavily, making it very difficult for Bullets to play their passing game.
The condition of the pitch made football very difficult for the hosts but it was Red Lions who adapted well to the situation and capitalized on Bullets’ defensive errors at the back.
Royal Bokosi made it 1-1 with a powerful header following a cross from the right to beat Ernest Kakhobwe in goals for the home side.
As the pitch became unplayable for the two teams due to the continued rains, Bullets kept on forcing to play their passing game on a waterlogged field, allowing Red Lions to change their tactics by opting for aerial balls and this paid off.
A mistake at the back following miscommunication between Ben Manyozo and Kakhobwe saw the defender scoring into his own net in the 31st minute to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. The goal was however awarded to Bokosi.
Bokosi completed his brace in the 43rd minute following another error by the Bullets ‘keeper, who left his line after failing to communicate with Manyozo to allow the striker to shoot outside the penalty box into an empty net, 1-3.
But Bullets were still in it and were able to reduce the arrears in additional minutes of the opening half through Kajoke, who scored from the spot following a handball by a Red Lions defender in the box, 2-3.
After recess, Bullets wasted no time by finding the equalizer through Gomezgani Chirwa who made a simple tap in after Banda’s shot was saved by the visitors’ goalkeeper.
Bullets kept on enjoying play, creating several chances and they should have scored another goal in quick succession, but Nickson Nyasulu’s header from Banda’s corner kick was cleared by the visitors before crossing the line.
Pasuwa made a double substitution introducing Luke Chima and Ernest Petro for Mike Mkwate and Mkanda.
Idana’s long range effort missed the goal mouth with an inch before a block on Chima’s shot inside the penalty box.
At the other end, Kakhobwe made a superb save to deny Red Lions a winning goal from a cross that came from the right after Bullets’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty.
There were anxious moments in Red Lions’ box as the pressure continued to mount from the team in red, who were inches away from making it 4-3 when Nyasulu’s header from Precious Sambani freekick missed the cross-bar with an inch.
As Bullets kept on pushing for the winning goal, the Zomba-based soldiers stood firm to collect a point from one of the most entertaining matches played in the current campaign. It ended 3-3 after 90 plus minutes.
Speaking in a post-match interview, coach Pasuwa said he was contented with the result considering the condition of the pitch due to the heavy rains.
“We were able to come back from 3-1 down to 3-3 and we almost scored the winning goal, but we were not clinical enough in front of goals.
“The rains made it very difficult for us to play our normal passing game and our friends capitalized on our defensive errors, but that’s football and I am happy with how we responded after the early goals,” said Pasuwa.
The result means Bullets have dropped seven points in the four games played so far this season. The People’s Team are fifth in the standings with five points from the games played.