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Match report: Mafco 1-1 Bullets

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Patrick Mwaungulu scored a late equaliser to help FCB Nyasa Big Bullets salvage a point against Mafco FC in the TNM Super League at Chitowe Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The People’s Team came into this match from another draw and they needed to respond quickly to keep pace with the current log leaders, Silver Strikers.

But it wasn’t an easy outing as the defending champions conceded in the 28th minute before Mwaungulu stepped up to score a stunning free kick in the 87th minute.

What happened

With injuries hitting his squad, Kalisto Pasuwa made four changes to the starting XI that drew 1-1 against Might Mukuru Wanderers last Saturday. Injured Ernest Petro, Clyde Senaji and Ephraim Kondowe were replaced by Babatunde Adepoju, Colin Mujuru and Hassan Kajoke while Precious Sambani returned to his position, pushing Chrispin Mapemba forward while Mwaungulu operated from the middle as an attacking midfielder.

The visitors created their first goal-scoring opportunity in the 7th minute when Mwaungulu’s corner-kick was defended by Paul Ndhlovu and from the rebound,

Mapemba tested Christopher Mikuwa with a long-range shot which was saved by the shot-stopper for another set piece that was not utilized.

At the other end of the field, Peter Kasonga failed to finish off a brilliant move from Innocent Makawano when his weaker shot was easily challenged by Innocent Nyasulu.

The two teams battled heavily in the middle of the field and as a result, they didn’t do much in terms of creating chances.

However, against the run of play, the hosts made a breakthrough two minutes before the half-hour mark disappointingly to the visitors who, just like last week against Mighty Mukuru Wanderers, ball-watched as Mafco advanced into the penalty box.

The ball originated from the right flank where Aubrey Chafewa capitalized on Precious Phiri’s failure to track him down before sending the ball to the unmarked Makawano, who wasted no time by slotting the ball home, beating the defenseless Nyasulu, 1-0.

Despite the setback, Bullets controlled possession and they nearly levelled in the 34th minute when Babatunde connected well to a fantastic cross from Aaron, but his powerful header was saved by Mikuwa, and from the rebound, the goalkeeper did well to keep the ball safe and to maintain his team’s slender lead.

The last ten minutes of the opening period saw more anti-football delaying tactics from the hosts, who, at every opportunity, were falling to the ground to seek medical attention.

This move paid off as they went to recess with their narrow lead.

After the break, Pasuwa brought in Ronald Chitiyo for Yankho Singo and moved Aaron to his preferred holding position in the midfield.

This improved Bullets’ midfield as Aaron won the battle against Yohane Malunga and brought the much-needed stability that was lacking in the first half.

In the 48th minute, Mwaungulu’s brilliant pass found Hassan Kajoke inside the penalty area, but the forward was late and allowed Ndhlovu to pin him down before gaining territory to deny Bullets from finding the back of the net.

The visitors were a more forceful attacking unit in this final half. But for all their dominance upfront, Pasuwa’s men lacked a clinical touch as they kept on missing chance after chance.

Both Sambani and Chitiyo fired wide when passing the ball to any of the attackers in the box was the best option for the trailing side.
Bullets’ failure to convert their chances nearly backfired when Makawano was found unmarked in a one-on-one situation with l Nyasulu, but his attempt hit the side net to the relief of the visitors who were caught napping in the line of duty.

Pasuwa brought in Lanjesi Nkhoma for Kajoke to try to make things happen for the defending champions, but Mafco defended with everything to maintain their lead as the clock was ticking very fast against Bullets.

With 20 minutes remaining on the clock, our former player, Bernard Chimaimba, thought he had buried the game when he received a pass from Kasonga inside the penalty area. But, the left winger, in a one-on-one situation with Nyasulu, failed to convert and send his shot wide off the goalkeeper’ left-hand side goal post.

This was the defining moment for Stereo Gondwe’s charges which were left to regret in the 87th minute when Mwaungulu, who was fouled by Duncan Mwale, stepped up and curved the ball beyond Mikuwa’s reach to the top corner, 1-1.

But the status of the game almost lasted for a few seconds as Mafco launched a counter attack through Chimaimba, who delivered a very dangerous cross into the box to Paul Phiri, who came in for Stain Malata, but his powerful header was cleared by Gomezgani Chirwa, who was at the right time as Nyasulu was completely beaten in the line of duty.
Six minutes were added to the clock, but the two teams couldn’t be separated as they shared a point apiece.

What it means

A fourth draw in six matches for the defending champions, only winning two games this campaign, sees Pasuwa’s men missing an opportunity to move into the Top 3 and remain in fourth position with 10 points, while Mafco FC are still winless in their six league matches and are second from bottom of the standings with three points.

What next

The People’s Team return to Blantyre and will switch focus to our seventh fixture of the campaign against newly-promoted Mzuzu City Hammers on Saturday.

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