The much fancied Blantyre derby involving traditional arch-rivals Mighty Mukuru Wanderers and Nyasa Big Bullets Sunday lived up to its billing after it ended in a dramatic 3-3 at Kamuzu Stadium.
It was the Nomads, who stole the show with their ‘never say never’ second half revival to earn a point as they came from behind to hold the TNM Super League leaders.
Bullets remain on the top of the table with 49 points from 19 matches while Wanderers are fourth with 34 points from 18 matches.
Bullets were already 2-0 up by half hour mark after Lanjesi Nkhoma was fed by Ernest Petro to put the People’s Team in the lead in the 16th minute.
Playmaker Patrick Mwaungulu extended Bullets’ lead when he created space and fired a shot beyond Wanderers goalkeeper Pilirani Mapira in the 24th minute.
Both goals originated from the Nomads’ awful defending as Alfred Manyozo Junior gave away the ball for the first goal while left back Ted Sumani failed to close in on Mwaungulu.
The Nomads reduced the deficit through Stanley Sanudi’s spot kick after goalkeeper Clever Nkungula fouled Vincent Nyangulu in the danger zone for referee Mayamiko Kanjere to point on the dreadful spot in the 26th minute.
Bullets relied on pacy youngsters in the likes of Mwaungulu, Nkhoma, Chimwemwe Idana, Precious Sambani and Gomezgani Chirwa to penetrate their opponents, who sat back as their packed midfield was less effective.
The spectators needed to hold their patience as the final half produced full action to take them back to good old days when the derby used to produce fireworks.
The People’s Team seemed to have sealed Wanderers’ fate when Idana weaved his way through a forest of Wanderers’ defence before firing past Pilirani Mapila to restore Bullets’ two-goal cushion as they led 3-1 in the 49th minute.
Wanderers new Coach Alex Ngwira made several substitutions but the first set saw Manyozo, Isaac Kaliati and Sumani being pulled for Francis Mkonda, Misheck Bottomani and Joseph Balakasi respectively and it marked the turn around.
Following the change, Wanderers were unstoppable as they took the game to Bullets and camped in their half.
Former Bullets centre back Miracle Gabeya reduced the arrears in the 73rd minute when he headed a corner beyond helpless Nkungula.
Ngwira then introduced Muhammad Sulumba and Vitumbiko Kumwenda to add fire power whereas Bullets Coach Kalitso Pasuwa made his own changes including pulling out Ernest, Mwaungulu, Nkhoma, but the People’s Team struggles continued.
Bullets’ central defence woes resurfaced again to haunt them when it had problems to clear set pieces.
Sulumba sent Wanderers fans into wild celebrations after he headed Kumwenda’s corner kick to eventually break the hearts of the People’s Team with three minutes before the final whistle.
Bullets Assistant Coach Peter Mponda, whose team last week also let in four goals in 4-4 draw with Moyale Barracks in the FDH Bank Cup conceded that they need to work on the problem.
“We played well and that is why we managed to score those goals. We need to work on the defending part,” Mponda said.
Nomads Technical Director Eddingtone Ng’onano applauded his team’s second half performance.
“The substitutions we made in second half were our turning point as we started attacking. However we have noted some problems we need to rectify,” Ng’onamo said.
This was the first time in recent time that the Blantyre derby has produced such a goal margin.
Bullets are still at the top with 49 points from 19 matches while Wanderers are fourth.