Lanjesi Nkhoma continued his fine goalscoring form as his first-half brace earned us full points away to Bangwe All Stars at Mpira Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The result sends Bullets three points clear in the standings as Silver Striker and Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, who are following up on second and third positions with 10 points, are yet to play their fifth league games of the season.
Kalisto Pasuwa made two changes to the side that defeated Moyale Barracks 3-1 at home last week, with Maxwell Phodo coming in for injured Hassan Kajoke whilst Kesten Simbi replaced Collins Okumu, who was not part of the squad.
With majestic aroma hovering about them, the champions made their presence felt against the hosts from the start, dominating possession from their usual high-pressing Bullets in Nkhoma, Patrick Mwaungulu and Mike Mkwate, with Alick Lungu and Blessings Mpokera adding the spice with their wing-back attacking prowess.
This lively start had the Super League rookies sitting in thick bunches trying to absorb the early intense pressure, but that game plan could not last for so long as Bullets put themselves ahead 14 minutes from the first whistle.
Lungu made a brilliant run into the area before finding Nkhoma who delightfully took the ball home, beating our former ‘keeper and Flames number one Ernest Kakhobwe, who could only see the ball shaking the net, 0-1.
All the handwork the Ma Stars had put in was abruptly undone and that had them helplessly shaking. Two minutes later they let their door open again for Nkhoma to net his sixth goal of the campaign.
Maxwell Gasten Phodo, who had been sparkling with flair touches for The People’s Team since the start, slid a delicious through ball to Nkhoma who rounded off Kakhobwe before guiding the ball into the empty net, 0-2.
Looking to stop the league leaders from getting a million miles away with the match, Mabvuto Lungu was forced to make double first-half changes as he hooked out former Bullets player and his captain on the day, Chimango Kayira, and Michael Tetteh for Emmanuel Lino and James Tambwali.
That, however, did not change the narrative of the tie as the Bullets continued their sheer dominance by creating chance after chance.
Lungu unleashed a vicious long-range effort in the 25th minute but Kakhobwe was equal to the task.
At the other end, Robert Saizi had his shot outside the penalty box taken care of by Richard Chimbamba, who was reduced to a mere spectator as most of the action was taking place at the other end of the field.
In the 36th minute Mwaungulu, who has had quite an indifferent start to the season, had a strong attempt on target but again Kakhobwe denied the champions another go.
With five minutes left in the opening period, Phodo found Nkhoma in the offensive zone and the winger advanced into the penalty area but he was brought down by Fanizo Mwansambo as he was about to pull the trigger only for referee Cassim Shaibu to wave play on.
Phodo nearly broke his goal drought in the league seconds before the half-time break, unluckily the forward lost possession despite successfully dribbling past two defenders in the box and that was all for the first period.
Mabvuto Lungu’s rollicking to his players during the break seemed to have worked as the hosts started the second half looking an improved side.
Thrice they tasted Chimbamba who showed sharp alertness to protect our two-goal lead.
In response to the improved performance from the home team, Pasuwa made wholesome changes as he brought on Gomezgani Chirwa, Precious Sambani, Kenneth Pasuwa and Anthony Mfune to replace Mpokera, Lungu, Mkwate and Phodo in the 65th minute before Stanley Billiat came on for Mwaungulu eleven minutes later.
And through those changes, victory away from home was managed by The People’s Team.
What it means
With today’s victory over Bangwe, the champions have now gone three points clear at the top of the league table. Having now played five games, Maule are now on 13 points, scoring 11 goals and conceding only two.
Man of the match
After putting up an outstanding performance against Moyale last weekend, Nkhoma was at it again with another hard-to-ignore display which has now seen him winning back-to-back Man of the Match awards.
Although he was deployed on the left, Nkhoma was, in the final third, everywhere tormenting Bangwe’s defence by using his clever runs to pop into goal-scoring positions. All the two goals he bagged today came with him from the middle of the area.
After only five games, Nkhoma has already scored half of the goals he scored last season. Right now, he leads the top goal scorers’ chart with six goals and with 25 league games left to play, the young winger looks braced for a high-scoring season.
The champions will have no respite after today’s win as they will immediately take a trip to Lilongwe to face Silver Strikers in a friendly match at the Bingu National Stadium during the memorial ceremony of Kamuzu Day organized by the Malawi Government.