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Match report: Bullets 2-0 Mzuzu City

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Chawanagwa Gumbo opened the scoring against his former club before Patrick Mwaungulu’s stunning finish from a corner kick gave FCB Nyasa Big Bullets a flawless 2-0 victory over Mzuzu City Hammers in the TNM Super League at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

It was a must-win match for the defending champions who have had a tough start to the season after recording four draws and two wins in the last six games.

What happened

Kalisto Pasuwa, with several injuries to his team, was forced to make more changes once again to his first XI as Blessings Mpokera partnered Colin Mujuru in central defence, with Gomezgani Chirwa returning to his right-back position and Precious Sambani given a start ahead of Crispin Mapemba, who started when we played Mafco last weekend.

From the word go, it was evident that the visitors had a special plan to deny the hosts a chance to make things happen.

There was less space to operate in as Hammers closed the home side in and made life very difficult for Pasuwa’s charges, who survived a scare in the opening minutes when Mpokera gave away possession to Chimwemwe Chunga, but his dangerous cross missed every maroon and yellow shirt inside the penalty area.

But against a run of play, Bullets broke the deadlock in the seventh minute following a defensive mistake from Jimmy Msiska, who allowed Babatunde Adepoju to send a low pass to, Gumbo who had a simple task of putting the ball into the back of the net, 1-0.

The goal rejuvenated Bullets and saw the hosts, through Lanjesi Nkhoma, hitting the post when, for the second time running, Hammers’ defence was caught napping in the line of duty, especially in the zone where Chisomo Sambani was operating.

In the 15th minute, a brilliant through ball from Nkhoma into the box nearly doubled our lead, but both Babatunde and Hassan Kajoke went for it and we could not convert, allowing Eddie Jamu to collect it with ease.

Mwaungulu was the next player to be denied by Mustapher Maulana when the defender blocked his goal-bound shot for a corner kick, which the visitors defended easily.

At the other end, Chunga’s long-range shot was easily saved by Richard Chimbamba and moments later, Mujuru lost possession to Isaac Msiska in the defensive zone, but the midfielder was late to decide and allowed Bullets to regroup and clear the danger.

Bullets’ passing lacked precision as the hosts hardly completed five passes, with the visitors dominating play from the midfield where Msiska was the dominant force for Hammers.

With the half-hour mark played, Mujuru was at it again, losing possession to Chunga, but the visitors failed to capitalise as Chimbamba came to our rescue with a timely save.

In the 35th minute, Gumbo made a first-time connection from Mwaungulu’s pass to test Jamu who came out on top with a save, and minutes later Chirwa’s cross into the area met Babatunde, who did everything right only to see the ball rolling out of action when the shot-stopper was already beaten in the line of duty.

Pasuwa pulled out Mujuru for Yamikani Mologeni and this change saw Chirwa partnering with Mpokera in the middle of defence as the Zimbabwean looked to bring stability against a highly pressing side that was attacking from all angles in search of an equaliser.

With 40 minutes played on the clock, Jamu came to Hammers’ rescue with a brilliant save to deny Mwaungulu from finding the back of the net after the midfielder, who turned 22 today, pounced on a loose ball from Sambani. The corner-kick was once again well-defended by the visitors.

There were no chances at the other end in the time left before the recess and Bullets held on to a slender first-half lead.

After the break, it only took three minutes for the hosts to create a golden opportunity when Lloyd Aaron found Babatunde unmarked, but the Nigerian, with a one-on-one situation with Jamu, failed to convert his chance into a goal as his first attempt was saved by Jamu, and from the rebound, he failed to tap in as Wongani Lungu came in time to block the forward from tapping in from close range.

Mwaungulu, in the 54th minute, saw his freekick outside the penalty box missing the upright with an inch.

Mwaungulu’s stunning finish

Bullets sealed a second victory at Kamuzu Stadium this campaign with a brilliant strike from Mwaungulu in the 64th minute.

A cross from Nkhoma found the birthday boy, who produced a powerful header that hit the post, and on the second attempt, Jamu tipped the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick.

Straight from the set piece, the midfielder slotted the ball home, beating all Hammers defenders and Jamu in their line of duty, 2-0.

Ernest Petro and Mapemba came in for Kajoke and Gumbo while Aubrey Simbi and Precious Phiri replaced Mathews Banda and Chawanangwa Mkandawire for Hammers in the 66th minute.

Two set pieces for the visitors almost caught Bullets defenders napping, but Hammers lacked the finishing composure to punish the hosts who looked jittery at the back.

With ten minutes left to play, Ronald Chitiyo came in for Nkhoma while Samson Chiona replaced Nyirenda for Hammers.

Chitiyo’s introduction saw us increasing our attacking pace. We could have found a third goal, but Babatunde and Mwaungulu were wasteful when plenty of chances were created after the introduction of the Zimbabwean midfielder.

In the end, the defending champions held on to register a third win of the season.

What it means

With 13 points from seven games, Bullets have moved from fifth to second position on the log table, three points behind leaders Silver Strikers, who will host fourth-placed Mighty Mukuru Wanderers on Sunday in Lilongwe.

Following the loss, Mzuzu City Hammers have moved to third position in the standings. They have the same points as Bullets, but the defending champions have a six-goal difference as the Northern Region side has a GD of one.

What next

After returning to winning ways at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday, The People’s Team will be back on the road this week as a trip away to Moyale Barracks awaits for Sunday’s league fixture at Mzuzu Stadium.

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