FCB Nyasa Big Bullets Reserves recorded their sixth draw of the 2023 ThumbsUp Southern Region Football League season as they played out a 1-1 draw against Ntopwa FC at Kamuzu Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
Ntopwa took the lead early in the first half through Selemani Saizi and with a spectacular goal Gift Lamowa equalized for Enos Chatama’s side in the second half.
Tuesday’s result leaves our youngsters with 27 points having played 15 games. In Group B, a win would have seen us reclaiming the top spot which is currently being occupied by Fomo FC who have 29 points from the same number of games as young Bullets.
In what was their seventh Blantyre derby this season, Bullets Reserves were off to a flying start against Isaac Jomo Osman’s boys who, despite being the hosts, looked disconnected in their coordination and had to rely on their luck not to have conceded thrice in the opening 25 minutes of the tie.
The highlight moments were created when forward Wongani Kaponya, in the 12th minute, incredibly won a thrilling footrace down the right byline before cutting the ball inside the penalty area but Lamowa could not execute a proper connection to hit the target.
A few minutes later, right back Gift Jossam despatched a fine cross into the box but Lamowa failed to meet it in the air as the ball bounced off his head and went out. The striker got himself into a goal-scoring position again when he brilliantly wriggled his way through into the box only to see his strike blocked by a bunch of Ntopwa’s defending bodies.
In the moments that shortly followed, we won two free-kicks in promising positions but all those chances were fluffed and the hosts took the lead against the run of play on the other end.
Dealing with Ntopwa’s first corner kick of their tie, Bullets Reserves managed to clear the ball away, but the hosts’ secondary delivery into the box from the left found the unmarked Saizi who headed it home to make it 1-0 in the 18th minute.
With lots of minutes left to play in the opening half, our youngsters looked for a response that never came and the interval break arrived with Bullets trailing by a goal.
The push for an equalizer continued at the restart, unfortunately, we had lost the right amount of coherence we earlier showed and that called for a substitution from the four-time league winner, Chatama, who replaced midfielder Lyton Chinong’one with central forward Zizwa Hanjahanja at the stroke of an hour mark.
Having added numbers in our attacking unit we then looked a threat to the hosts each time we drove forward. In the 71st minute, we found our way when the former Agumbala midfielder Limbani Kutambe did well to beat his marker and race into the box from the right byline before flying a perfect delivery which was headed home with perfection by the arriving Lamowa at the far post to make it 1-1 and beautifully set for the final stages.
We fought hard for the winner by creating a series of chances in the closing stages but the clock ran down with us still pushing for the maximum points.
What it means
Our sixth draw of the season moves us to 27 points from 15 matches and with that tally, Bullets Reserves remain in second position in the latest standings of the ThumbsUp Southern Region Football League in Group B. Just like the week before, we have missed an opportunity to reclaim the top spot for a win could have seen us go level on points with Fomo FC who lead the group with 29 points.
What follows is what will be the eighth Blantyre derby of the season for our youngsters who will now have to make the long trip to Mchinji where they will face Mighty Mukuru Wanderers Reserves in the semi-finals of the Aubrey Dimba Trophy.
Austin Chirambo, Gift Jossam, Raphick Bahati, Mussah Bwanali, Happy Mphepo, Limbani Kutambe, Lyton Chinong’one, Andrew Lameck, Chrispin Mapemba, Wongani Kaponya, Gift Lamowa.
Zizwa Hanjahanja, Francis Malikebu.