FCB Nyasa Big Bullets have extended their lead at the top of the TNM Super League standings after collecting a point with a goalless draw away to Blue Eagles on Sunday afternoon.
The defending champions failed to end their winless run with another stalemate in a highly contested match at Nankhaka Stadium.
Bullets now have 56 points from 27 games while second-placed Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, who have played a game more than The People’s Team, have 54 points. Silver Strikers come third with 53 points having played 28 games as well.
Straight from a 1-all draw away to Red Lions on Wednesday, Kalisto Pasuwa made three changes to his side, with Ephraim Kondowe, Gomezgani Chirwa and Frank Willard all returning to the first XI in place of Precious Phiri, Clyde Senaji and Chawanangwa Gumbo.
For the opening 20 minutes of the game, there was nothing serious from the two teams as they restricted each other from finding spaces to create chances.
But it was Bullets who created the first goal-scoring opportunity when Yankho Singo, in his third straight start, delivered an inviting cross into the box but Lanjesi Nkhoma could not produce anything out of that chance before Kondowe and Maxwell Phodo had their attempts blocked by Jacob Robert and MacDonald Lameck.
Moments later, Patrick Mwaungulu had his delivery inside the area quickly intercepted by John Soko, who was well-positioned to deal with the threat.
With the half-hour mark played, Paul Master came close but his effort from outside the area missed the upright with an inch.
In all fairness, it wasn’t an entertaining game as expected as the two teams used secondary balls due to the nature of the pitch, which was dry and bumpy. None of the teams could even complete four passes.
It ended goalless at the end of the opening period with no serious shot at goal from both sides.
The second half started the way the first half ended, ping pong football as the two teams kept the ball in the air rather than on the surface.
Eagles were the first to create a clear-cut chance in the 56th minute when Laurent Banda’s through-ball found Tonic Viyuyi, who forced Richard Chimbamba to make a brilliant save, his first serious involvement in the game.
Pasuwa brought in Alick Lungu for injured Frank Willard while Trouble Banda and Christopher Gototo replaced Banda and Blessings Tembo for the hosts.
Willard’s injury moved Precious Sambani into the midfield to try to regain territory as Master was dominating play in the most critical areas.
The visitors made a breakthrough into Eagles’ half when Mwaungulu released Phodo to the far right. The forward should have taken his time to observe Soko’s position, but he was quick to take a shot at goal from outside the penalty box, which was easily stopped by the shot-stopper.
Hassan Kajoke and Stanley Billiat replaced Kondowe and Nkhoma to try to increase the attacking efficiency in the final third.
But Eagles should have had a goal in the 69th minute through Banda, who opened fire and nearly caught Chimbamba in an awkward position and the Bullets ‘keeper fumbled the ball before making amends with a timely reaction to stop the ball from crossing the line.
At the other end, Billiat missed what would have given Bullets an important goal when he combined well with Kajoke only to see his goal-bound shot well blocked by MacDonald Lameck who came from nowhere to rescue the hosts.
In the next seven minutes, Bullets created three golden opportunities through Billiat, Phodo and Kajoke unfortunately, none of the attempts went in.
Peter Banda and Precious Phiri came on for Phodo and Mwaungulu. These changes breathed more life into Pasuwa’s side and almost created something out of nothing for the visitors.
Chirwa delivered a cross into the box as he tried to find Banda but the midfielder was far away from the penalty area.
Moments later Bullets failed to put into good use an appetizing delivery inside the six-yard area as Billiat mistimed his movement and saw the ball swerve away from him when any slight touch of the ball would have ended in Soko’s goal.
The hosts were awarded a free kick in the 85th minute 20 yards from goal but Mhone fired his attempt an inch away from Chimbamba’s right-hand post.
Bullets pushed everyone forward in search of a goal, but the hosts were very organized in defence to frustrate Pasuwa’s charges who, after the final whistle, could look dejected and in disbelief.
The point gained at Nankhaka means Bullets are just four points away from retaining the title.
Maule’s next assignment is against Dedza Dynamos at Dedza Stadium on 22 November.