Nyasa Big Bullets secured their tenth win of the season in the 2020/21 TNM Super League after recording a 2-0 victory over Ekwendeni Hammers at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The win took Bullets to within two points of log leaders Silver Strikers, who succumbed to a 1-0 defeat away to TN Stars in Kasungu on the same afternoon.
Coach Kalisto Pasuwa made three changes to the side that started in the 0-0 draw against TN Stars in Kasungu last weekend.
He brought back Gomegzani Chirwa and Precious Sambani to replace McFallen Mgwira and Yamikani Fodya, while handing youngster Lanjesi Nkhoma his full debut to replace Chiukepo Msowoya, who was missing from Matchday squad alongside Fodya.
The game started as a slow burner, with the visitors passing their way in and around Bullets’ half through Eric Kaonga, Eneya Banda and Patrick Banda.
It took more than 12 minutes for Bullets to settle down and The People’s Team created the first clear-cut chance in the 16th minute when Gomezgani Chirwa found Hassan Kajoke inside the six-yard box only to send his shot straight at Chakonda Majaga.
Bullets were dealt a massive blow when wing-back Precious Sambani was substituted after injuring his ligament in the 17th minute and was replaced by John Lanjesi, who came in to partner Nickson Nyasulu in central defence while Sankhani Mkandawire shifted to the left.
The visitors came close to finding an opener in the 28th minute when Sammy Phiri’s strike from outside the penalty box missed Richard Chimbamba’s goal posts with an inch.
The action began to hit up towards the end of the half and the hosts made a breakthrough in the 40th minute when Hassan Kajoke scored from the spot after Patrick Banda tripped Nkhoma inside the penalty box and the Bullets striker stepped up to make it 1-0.
The visitors almost responded in style in the 43rd minute when Kaonga’s freekick inside Bullets’ defensive zone was headed at goal by Joseph Mbewe, but the ball came off the woodwork before an intervention from Chimbamba.
The opening minutes of the second-half were a replication of the start of the first-half as Ekwendeni looked more threatening, with the visitors pressing high and keeping Bullets under pressure at the back.
Left-back Kaonga proved to be a threat down the left as he supplied daring crosses into the danger area. The Ekwendeni captain provided a dangerous ball into the box in the 53rd minute, but Banda’s attempt hit the side net.
Pasuwa made a double substitution in the 56th minute when he handed newly-signed midfielder, Paul Kansungwi, his first appearance for The People’s Team to replace Mike Mkwate, whilst Chimango Kayira paved the way for Bright Munthali as Bullets opted to increase options in attack and start pushing forward in search for another goal.
Kajoke should have registered his second goal and doubled Bullets’ lead when he was set by Munthali, unfortunately the striker could not get his effort on target as he blasted it over the crossbar when he only had Majaga to beat from close range.
Pasuwa made another double substitution as Nkhoma and Meshack Seleman were replaced by Mkanda and McFallen Mgwira for more firepower in attack.
In the 70th minute, Kansungwi almost opened his account with Bullets when he dribbled past Mustafa Mauluka, Emmanuel Kaunga and Harry Nyirenda before releasing a rocket, which missed Majaga’s goal with an inch.
Ultimately, Bullets got the job done in the 77th minute when Mgwira finished off Chirwa’s low cross to beat the advancing Majaga and put the game to bed, 2-0.
The win was a relief to Bullets, who have now cut the gap to just two points, having collected 36 points from 18 games while Silver Strikers have 38 points from 17 games.