FCB Nyasa Big Bullets came from behind to draw 1-1 away to Civil Service United in the TNM Super League at Civo Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
With several players injured, Kalisto Pasuwa made some changes to the side that defeated Bangwe All Stars last week by handing captain John Lanjesi a place in the first eleven in the absence of Clyde Senaji whilst Righteous Banda replaced Mike Mkwate in the midfield.
It was a game that was open to both teams. Being a bumpy and dry pitch, the hosts were very comfortable as they started on the front foot through Chikaiko Batison, Binwell Katinji, Patrick Phiri and Moses Banda, but it was difficult for them to unlock Lanjesi’s led defence.
At the other end, Patrick Mwaungulu produced an individual brilliance in the 7th minute when he got the better of Timothy Silwimba before finding Maxwell Phodo inside the six-yard area, but the forward’s goal-bound tap-in was well blocked by John Dambuleni for a corner kick.
Blessings Mpokera came close when he attempted to connect from the set piece but the defender fired over the crossbar when Civil’s defence failed to clear the corner kick.
Bullets then lost possession inside Civil’s half to Phiri who launched a counter-attack and his through-ball caught Lanjesi napping in the line of duty to find Katinji, who beat Richard Chimbamba to put the hosts in the lead, 1-0.
The visitors had a chance to level from a freekick, but Mwaungulu’s strike hit Dambuleni for another corner kick, which was easily cleared by Oscar Kaunda’s charges
Pasuwa brought in Ephraim Kondowe and Mkwate for Banda and Lanjesi Nkhoma to try to regain control of the midfield, which was mostly dominated by the hosts.
The two changes brought some rhythm to the game as Bullets kept on pushing for an equalizer, but Civil’s defence stood firm to keep their lead intact.
On the stroke of half-time, Alick Lungu produced a powerful shot, but he was denied by Tione Tembo in goal for the Servants, and that was all for the half.
After the recess, Gomezgani Chirwa replaced Frank Willard and Mpokera moved into the middle of the park as Pasuwa looked to improve the attacking prowess.
It only took less than 40 seconds for The People’s Team to level.
Immediately after the restart, Blessings Mpokera sent a long ball into Civil’s half and the hosts had their clearance land in the path of Mkwate who found Maxwell Phodo and the striker laid the ball to Mwaungulu for the wing forward to produce a ferocious volley outside the penalty box to beat Tembo, 1-1.
The goal was all that Bullets needed to spoil Civil’s planned unnecessary delaying tactics; at this moment, it was a game which would have gone either way.
At the other end, Civil almost restored their lead when Batison’s low pass into the area found Katinji unmarked but his attempt was stopped by Chimbamba.
65 minutes into the match, Kaunda brought in Daniel Kumwenda, Chifundo Ngapenga, Innocent Tanganyika and Arnold Masamba for Phiri, Banda, Frank Chizuze and Katinji.
Bullets should have doubled the lead in the 68th minute when Mwaungulu beat an offside trap to find himself at the receiving end of Lungu’s excellent delivery into the box but the midfielder’s shot hit the post and there was no one to finish off the job as Civil survived.
The hosts then caught Bullets on the counter again and nearly found a goal in the 70th minute but Katinji failed to beat Chimbamba who produced a fantastic save before being rescued by Chirwa’s timely clearance inside the box.
As Maule continued searching for another goal, Pasuwa brought in Chinedu Okafor and withdrew Ephraim Kondowe.
With less than fifteen minutes left to play, Bullets had three penalty appeals turned down by referee Alfred Chilinda, who waved play on after Phodo was brought down in the area and saw nothing from the two handballs inside the box.
The clock was ticking very fast and Bullets kept on pushing but Civil couldn’t open up and on several occasions, caught the visitors on the counter, however, Chimbamba was excellent as he, for the third time denied Batison a goal after he received a cross from Tanganyika.
Pasuwa brought in Sambani for Mwaungulu in the last minutes of the match but the two teams had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The result means Bullets are back on top with 14 points, level with Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, but the defending champions have a superior goal difference.
Bullets will play Red Lions at Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday before travelling to the North to play Chitipa United at Karonga Stadium.