Nyasa Big Bullets had to settle for a point as we were held to a 1-1 draw by Blue Eagles in the TNM Super League on Saturday afternoon.
The People’s Team had to come from behind at Kamuzu Stadium through Chimwemwe Idana after Trouble Banda opened the scoring to put the visitors in the lead.
It was Bullets’ third draw in a row after drawing 1-1 at home to Civil Service United a fortnight ago, before playing a 2-2 draw away to Silver Strikers last week.
GOALLESS FIRST HALF
Kalisto Pasuwa made some changes to the side that drew away in Lilongwe, with Chimwemwe Idana and Ernest Petro returning to the first eleven. Nickson Nyasulu came in for Blessings Mpokera as Bullets switched Gomezgani Chirwa, who played as a centre-back in Lilongwe, to his position.
Of the two teams, Bullets started brightly on a hot afternoon through their usual wingers who pressed from all angles to try to break Eagles’ defense, which was led by Sankhani Mkandawire.
The opening ten minutes saw the hosts winning four corner kicks but every effort inside the visitors’ goal area proved futile as Eagles defended with everything to stop the league leaders from finding an opener.
Against the run of play, Eagles attacked for the first time through Micium Mhone, who released Schumacher Kuwali from the left flank and the forward wasted no time by releasing a curling shot that was put away by Clever Mkungula for a corner kick.
At the other end, The People’s Team had a clear chance through Anthony Mfune, who was set through by Idana and he was one-on-one with Brighton Munthali but his attempt hit the side net as he tried to beat the ‘keeper near post.
25 minutes into the match, Idana had an opportunity to break the deadlock when he was found unmarked in the danger zone, however, the midfielder was unfortunate to see his goal-bound strike blocked by Jacob Robert.
With nearly 45 minutes played Bullets lost Precious Sambani, who earlier on, had his long-range shot missing Munthali’s goal mouth with an inch, to an injury and was replaced by Eric Kaonga.
In the additional minutes of the opening period, MacDonald Lameck thought he had scored from Mhone’s freekick but his pouncing header was ruled out by referee Zebron Lengani for an infringement on Mkungula and that was all for the half.
SECOND HALF – EAGLES OPEN THE SCORING
The final half started exactly how the opening period started, with Bullets pushing from the wings, especially on the right where Chirwa was operating, but putting the ball into the back of the net proved too difficult for Pasuwa’s side.
In the 58th minute, Idana was denied by Munthali who saved his powerful effort. The goalkeeper was very active and made it very difficult for Bullets’ attackers to place the ball into the net.
It was Banda who broke the deadlock six minutes after the hour mark. An excellent pass from Mhone found the Eagles’ number 15 unmarked after making a good run into the area and he made no mistake but pounce at the defenseless Mkungula, 0-1.
This was not what Bullets fans expected but it was happening. The only way out was for the players to respond as The People’s Team looked to maintain the unbeaten run in the league this season.
Pasuwa made a change as he brought on Hassan Kajoke in the 68th minute for Babatunde, who has sustained an injury.
Bullets levelled the scoreline in the 73rd minute through Idana, who was fed by Mwaungulu’s brilliant pass, 1-1.
The visiting side also made a change bringing in Laurent Banda for Richard Lapson, whilst McFarlen Mgwira replaced Mwaungulu for Bullets.
The equalizer gave Bullets some rhythm as they searched for another goal and Mfune came close in the 78th minute when he was set through by Chirwa, unfortunately, the forward was denied a chance to bag his fourth goal in four consecutive matches following a save by the Eagles shot stopper.
Bullets attacked and at the same time opened their defense and allowed Eagles to launch counter-attacks that would have seen them scoring another goal in the 85th minute through Christopher Gototo, who came in for Mhone, but the forward failed to connect well from Banda’s cross that from the right.
The two teams tried to push for a winning goal but after 90 minutes of action, it was a repeat of the first-round result when they shared the spoils at Nankhaka Stadium, 1-1.
Chirwa was named Man of the Match with yet another phenomenal performance from the wingback.
This means nothing has changed as far as the standings are concerned as the gap between the two teams remains eight points with six games left to play.
Pasuwa’s side has 58 points whilst Eliah Kananji’s Eagles have 50 points from the same number of games, 24.
Bullets will next travel to Chiwembe for a midweek fixture against Sable Farming at the Mpira Stadium on Wednesday.