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Match report: Bullets 1-1 Wanderers

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The spoils were shared in the 75th Blantyre derby as FCB Nyasa Big Bullets drew 1-1 against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers in the TNM Super League at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was the first clash between The People’s Team and Nomads in the 2024 season and the two sides went into this clash tied at eight points, with Wanderers sitting above Bullets on goal difference.

Isaac Kaliati broke the deadlock 20 minutes into the game before Patrick Mwaungulu pulled Bullets level four minutes after the break.

What happened

Kalisto Pasuwa made three changes to the side that won 2-1 over Baka City last week by handing starts to Innocent Nyasulu, Crispin Mapemba and Yankho Singo, dropping Richard Chimbamba and Precious Sambani to the bench as Colin Mujuru missed out due to pulled muscles.

The derby started ferociously, with both sides coming out to attack. But the Nomads had more time on the ball as they kept possession and played a high-intensity game through Gaddie Chirwa and Isaac Kaliati, only unlocking the Bullets defence was a tough assignment for the visitors.

Nsanzurwimo Ramadhan’s men kept dominating possession, but they cheaply gave away the ball to their opposition in the final third of the attack.

Bullets’ first chance came in the 11th minute when Mwaungulu delivered a dangerous cross into the penalty box from a free-kick, however, Ephraim Kondowe failed to pounce as he was disturbed by Richard Chipuwa who came out early to rescue the Nomads from conceding.

Wanderers’ hard-working spirit finally paid off in the 20th minute when Wisdom Mpinganjira, Timothy Silwimba and Blessings Singini exchanged passes to release Kaliati who made no mistake but fired at goal to beat Nyasulu, 0-1.

At this moment, there was nothing to show from the hosts who struggled to find their rhythm in the offensive zone, with all the supply lines closed down by the visitors.

It was a lackluster performance from the defending champions who were slow on everything and were second on the ball to the Nomads who were in control of the proceedings.

With more than 35 minutes played on the clock, Bullets had no attempt at goal, with Wanderers cutting short every attack from the hosts to defend their slender lead.

In the 40th minute, Christopher Kumwembe almost doubled the Nomads’ lead when Precious Phiri and Gomezgani Chirwa lost possession in the penalty area. But the forward’s attempt hit the side net for a goal kick.

Bullets came close in the 42nd minute when Ephraim Kondowe made a run from Mapemba’s through ball only to blast his effort over the crossbar when Richard Chipuwa was already beaten in the line of duty, and that was all for the half.

The People’s Team made a double substitution coming from the break as Ronald Chitiyo and Babatunde Adepoju came on for Lloyd Aaron and Lanjesi Nkhoma. This was a tactical move by Pasuwa as he looked to regain control of the midfield which was mostly dominated by the Nomads.

These two changes paid off as Bullets levelled five minutes into the second half when Phiri, Singo and Chitiyo combined well to find Babatunde who laid the ball down to Mwaungulu on the edge of the penalty box and our no.11 wasted no time but released a left-footed strike into the far corner, 1-1.

For the next ten minutes, Bullets raised their tempo and made brilliant moves into Wanderers’ half, but the defensive pair of Lawrence Chaziya and Muhammad Kung’unde was very solid to deny us any chance to find the back of the net again.

With the hour mark gone, Mpinganjira got the better of Chirwa before releasing a powerful drive that missed Nyasulu’s right-hand goal post with an inch to hit the side net.

Ramadhan brought in Bakilinho Mwakanyongo for Kaliati as he aimed to add more firepower upfront and more numerical superiority in the midfield.

Bullets dropped down again and allowed Wanderers to increase their intensity in the attacking zone and our opponents nearly restored their lead when Stanley Sanudi found Gaddie Chirwa to his right before sending the ball into the area to find Felix Zulu unmarked, luckily, the Nomads midfielder blasted his effort over the crossbar.

The visitors made another substitution in the 72nd minute when Francisco Madinga came on for Mpinganjira.

The last ten minutes were played in the midfield, but Babatunde had his chance to finish off Wanderers, unfortunately, the forward allowed Chipuwa to arrive on time and make a timely save to keep the game at level.

Pasuwa introduced Anthony Mfune for Kondowe in the 82nd minute.

Babatunde saw his goal-bound shot well blocked by Kung’unde for a corner kick which was easily defended by the visitors.

With three minutes to go, a dangerous ball from a corner kick nearly resulted in a goal for Wanderers as Nyasulu fumbled the cross and gifted Kumwembe a chance, but the forward failed to put the ball into the net when the goal was wide open, and 1-1 it ended.

What it means

Saturday’s result was a fourth straight draw in the Blantyre derby. Bullets last recorded a league win over their neighbours in the first round of the 2022 season, and since then, these two teams have failed to beat each other for maximum points.

We are now fourth in the current standings with nine points from five games. Our rivals come third with the same number of points and games but have a better goal difference of six, two above us.

Silver Strikers maintained the top spot on the log table following their 2-0 victory over Baka City away in Karonga on the same afternoon. They currently have 13 points, while second-placed Mzuzu City Hammers have 10 points following their 1-1 stalemate against Moyale Barracks in the Mzuzu derby.

What next

Kalisto Pasuwa’s men will be on the road again this weekend when we travel to Dwangwa for our sixth fixture of the campaign against Mafco at Chitowe Stadium on Saturday.

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