Match Report: Ekwendeni 0-1 Nyasa Big Bullets

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Gomezgani Chirwa came off the bench to score the winning goal as Nyasa Big Bullets secured a hard-fought 0-1 TNM Super League victory over Ekwendeni Hammers at Mzuzu Stadium on Saturday.

Playing on a muddy surface, The People’s Team had to toil until the 90th minute to secure maximum points and maintain third position in the standings.

For three consecutive weeks, Mzuzu has been raining and the situation at the stadium was not favoruble for the two sides, but Bullets repeated what they did at Silver Stadium in 2019, scoring in the last minute when they beat Silver Strikers on a drenched pitch to collect vital full points in the title defence.

Knowing how bad the pitch was, Bullets mentor Kalisto Pasuwa put up a very surprising line up, with John Lanjesi, Nelson Kangunje, Chiukepo Msowoya and Zicco Mkanda all starting against the Mzimba-based side.

Both teams struggled to settle down, but Bullets were the first to create a very good scoring opportunity when a pass from McFallen Mgwira was controlled by Msowoya who ended up feeding Chimango Kayira but the midfielder’ goal-bound shot was cleared by Harry Nyirenda.

At the other end, it was Zikani Kasambara’s turn to test Richard Chimbamba with a weaker effort outside the penalty box which swayed off the post for a corner.

The home team made a very quick substitution before the half-hour mark as Sammy Phiri was taken out for Chancy Kaonga.

Towards the end of the half, the visitors were threatened at times by the rookies, who played an open game as Bullets coach anticipated in his pre-match interviews during the week. 

Chimbamba was forced into action in the 43rd minute as he smartly held onto a shot from close range by Clever Kayira.

After the recess, the home team were contented with the state of affairs as they started to play some delaying tactics in order to frustrate the visitors, who were coming from another barren draw away to Mafco FC last week.

In the 52nd minute, Precious Sambani had his long range shot missing the goal with inches as Bullets were desperate for a goal.

Pasuwa then brought in Chirwa and Ernest Petro for Kangunje and Mgwira.

The play was stopped for several minutes when goalkeeper Chakonda Majaga collided with his own defender, but the assistant referee wrongly awarded the hosts a freekick when there was no involvement from a Bullets player.

In the 65th minute, Msowoya was substituted for Luke Chima whilst Chawanangwa Gumbo and John Chalamanda came in for Eneya Banda and Jack Msiska.

In the 69th minute, Majaga left his goal area to try to clear the ball away outside the penalty box only to lose possession to Sambani who was quick to hit from afar but the ball went wide for a goal kick.

The home team nearly found the back of the net through Kasambara who won an aerial combat against Sankhani Mkandawire but his shot went over the crossbar to the relief of The People’s Team bench.

Chimbamba was once again called into action in the 73rd minute to clear the ball out of his area when Bullets’ defence was caught sleeping in the line of duty.

Pasuwa made another change when he introduced Meshack Seleman for Kayira as Bullets tried to increase their attacking options in search for a winner.

In the 77th minute, Bullets almost scored the much-needed goal when Chima was found one on one with the goalkeeper after he was set through by Chimwemwe Idana, but the forward blasted his effort over the cross bar.

Bullets kept on pushing, but the hosts could not open up at the back as Nyirenda was too solid in defence for the home side.

Just as it looked like Bullets will drop more points in the title race, Chirwa connected with a pitch-perfect pass from Chima, who received a long ball from Sambani to hand the defending champions a vital 0-1 victory.

The win sees Bullets maintaining the third position with 22 points from eleven games, two behind second-placed Civil Service United and three behind leaders Silver Strikers.

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