Bashir Maunde and Chimwemwe Idana gave Nyasa Big Bullets a two-goal lead but lack of concentration saw The People’s Team give away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-all against Savenda Chitipa United at Kamuzu Stadium on Saturday.
Bullets got off to a fast start as Peter Banda came close in the opening minute but the youngster saw his shot off target before Chiukepo Msowoya won a free kick seconds later outside the box, however the setpiece was wasted.
The defending champions settled well and kept knocking and Hassan Kajoke had his goal ruled out at 11 minutes as the referee saw an infringement on Chitipa United goalkeeper Dalitso Khungwa, who had earlier denied Msowoya a chance to score as his header was parried away.
Maunde gave Bullets an early lead 13 minutes into the game as he jumped high to covert Yamikani Fodya’s in-swinging left-footed corner kick from the right.
There was an appeal for a handball inside the home side’s penalty box from Chitipa United players and officials, however there was no reaction from the referee who was closely monitoring the action to spot a handball.
Chitipa’s first clear chance came in the 33rd minute as the visitors were given space to shoot only to blast the ball wide.
With five minutes to go in the first half, Banda beat the visitors’ goalkeeper but could not believe it as he saw his ball cleared by Chitipa’s last man in defense for a corner which they defended very well.
Bullets the last chance of the opening half in the 44th minute as Precious Phiri beat two opponents on the right before he curved the ball with the inside of his foot but the wingback’s effort hit the post.
The People’s Team made a change at the start of the second half as Kalisto Pasuwa pulled out Kajoke for Nelson Kangunje who contributed to Bullets’ second goal that came in the 47th minute after Msowoya had set Idana whose swirling ball went into the right corner of the net to double the lead.
When Bullets thought they were comfortable in the driver’s seat, Yotamu Chitete pulled one back for the visitors following some laidback defending.
Patrick Phiri had a chance to increase the lead minutes later but wasted the opportunity as he hit the ball direct at the goalkeeper in a one-v-one situation. Bullets made another change in the 67th minute, with Kondowe coming on to replace injured Peter Banda.
Chitipa nearly grabbed an equalizer in the 74th minute after sending a very dangerous ball inside Bullets six-yard area, however there was no sky-blue shirt close to goal to drive the ball into the net.
Sankhani Mkandawire came on in the 75th minute as Pasuwa made his final substitution, taking off Maunde who had picked a knock. The central defender nearly gifted the visitors a chance to grab a for a second goal as he failed to clear the ball with his first touch, but his ‘keeper Rabson Chiyenda came to the rescue.
Chiyenda was put to the test again in the 79th minute after Emmanuel Muyira, who was unmarked 20 yards from goal was left to control the ball and release a volley that went past the Bullets shot stopper to make it 2-2.
At 88 minutes Msowoya had a great opportunity to get Bullets back in the lead but the striker, who has been struggling to get goals, could not use the chance to grab a winning goal as he blasted the ball over the crossbar from close range with Chitipa United goalkeeper already beaten.
Read what coach Kalisto Pasuwa said after the match:
“We didn’t come to the party [as] we were losing possession unnecessarily. There are some areas that we need to work on so that we pull up our socks in the next games that are coming in order for us to take up points.
“It is going to be difficult for us when meeting these teams; you could see how the [Chitipa] boys were all over us, they were so excited playing against us and yes we need to do more to do better in these matches.
“We had one of our center-backs [Maunde] who had a pulled muscle, so we had to pull him off. Center-backs is one dangerous position for one to make a change and with the minutes that we had, the opponents got a good ball on a good position and they hit a 20-metre drive which went into goal.”
Bullets are still on position five on the log table with 15 points from eight matches and remain with seven games before winding up the TNM Super League first-round. TN Stars, who have played nine games, are at the summit with 19 points, while Dwangwa United are bottom of the table with five points from 10 games.