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Match report: Dedza 1-0 Bullets

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FCB Nyasa Big Bullets registered a second defeat of the season to blow the TNM Super League title race wide open following a 1-0 loss to Dedza Dynamos at Dedza Stadium on Thursday afternoon.

Bullets came into this match straight from three successive draws and needed a win to fend off pressure from Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Silver Strikers.

What happened

From the first whistle, The People’s Team conceded in controversial circumstances.

A collision between Precious Sambani, who was moved into the defensive midfield, and Precious Phiri saw the centre referee Kondwani Kamwendo award the hosts a freekick inside the visitors’ half.

From that set piece, Lameck Gamphani sent a diagonal ball to the other side of the field which was completely missed by every Bullets defender, including the goalkeeper, allowing Clement Nyondo to pounce and force Richard Chimbamba to fumble the ball into his net, 1-0.

That was Dedza’s only attempt at goal in the opening minutes, but the visitors had some clear-cut chances to level, but the defending champions were not clinical enough to punish the equalizer.

The first of the many goal attempts arrived in the 10th minute when Alick Lungu produced a powerful drive at goal, but Donnex Mwakasinga was very much alert as he made a save to keep his team in the lead.

Bullets kept pushing for an equalizer, but Dynamos’ defence led by Justice Chihoma was very solid, blocking every dangerous move and giving no space to Maxwell Phodo, Patrick Mwaungulu and Lanjesi Nkhoma.

The only option for the visitors was to shoot from afar in a desperate bid for a goal, but this brought no impact as they kept on losing the ball to the opposition.

Mwaungulu almost levelled the scoreline with a powerful shot, which was brilliantly kept away from danger by Mwakasinga to concede a corner kick that was also well defended by Lughano Kayira.

Gilbert Chirwa’s men had their second attempt at goal after 28 minutes through Charles Chipala, who was denied by Chimbamba.

With the wind blowing against Bullets, Dedza almost capitalized when Gamphani sprinted for a ball that Nickson Nyasulu thought was out of play, but his dangerous cross was well cleared by Yamikani Fodya.

For the next ten minutes, Bullets were a better side but lacked the finishing composure in front of goal against a side that was now sitting back to defend their slender lead.

In the additional minutes of the opening period, Bullets almost put the game on level. A freekick from Mwaungulu was connected well by Phiri only to see the ball rolling over the crossbar when Mwakasinga was already beaten in the line of duty.

 

Moments later, another excellent delivery from Mwaungulu found Phodo unmarked. The forward did everything right by heading the ball at goal, but once again, Mwakasinga was equal to the task with an excellent save for yet another set piece, which was also well dealt with by the shot-stopper to mark the end of the first half.

After the recess, Pasuwa brought in Blessings Mpokera for his captain Sambani, who had picked a yellow card in the first half.

It wasn’t a good start from the two teams, but Dedza wanted to capitalize on counterattacks by placing Nyondo alone inside Bullets’ half to pounce on every loose ball from their opponents.

This tactic almost benefitted them as Nyondo caused havoc to Fodya and Lungu, but the forward had no support to finish off Bullets, who, at this particular time, were more offensive in search of an equalizer.

From the 46th to the 49th minute, Chimbamba was called into action twice to deny Gamphani, whose shot forced the goalkeeper to concede a corner kick and from the set piece, Nyondo was also denied by the shot-stopper for another corner kick which almost found the back of the net before Fodya made a timely clearance.

After the half-hour mark, Ephraim Kondowe replaced Nkhoma as Kalisto Pasuwa looked to improve the attacking prowess as the clock was ticking very fast against the visitors.

As Bullets were 1-0 down, Wanderers were also failing to break Mighty Tigers at Kamuzu Stadium while Silver and Kamuzu Barracks were also 1-1 in Lilongwe.

With 20 minutes left to play, Ernest Petro thought he had levelled, but Mwakasinga was the stumbling block with yet another important save to maintain his team’s slender lead.

Mwaungulu and Phodo combined well to release Kondowe to the far right, but the forward was too quick to shoot from a very difficult angle than sending the ball back into the box where fellow attackers were ready to pounce.

Stanley Billiat, Hassan Kajoke and Peter Banda all came in for Mwaungulu, Chawanangwa Gumbo and Phodo to try to force something out of the game, but Bullets failed to open the hosts’ defence which was in total control of every dangerous ball thrown into the penalty area.

Mpokera nearly handed Dedza a second goal when he lost possession inside his half, but Gamphani fired wide when Chimbamba was nowhere near his goal area.

Bullets tried to push for an equalizer, but Dedza defended with everything to claim all the points and their first-ever win over the defending champions since their promotion to the top-flight league in the 2020/21 season.

What it means

Bullets are still favourites to retain the championship, but they have made things very difficult for themselves following Silver’s last-minute victory over Kamuzu Barracks at Bingu National Stadium.

As things stand, Bullets have to beat Karonga United on Thursday to open a three-point lead over the Central Bankers, who have moved second and will travel to Blantyre to face The People’s Team in a highly anticipated clash on the final day of the 2023 season on 3rd December.

As for Wanderers, the goalless draw at home to Tigers is a massive blow to their title ambitions because three points would have seen them opening a one-point lead at the top over Bullets and Silver.

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