Substitute Precious Phiri stepped from the bench to inspire Nyasa Big Bullets to defeat title contenders Silver Strikers 2-1 at Kamuzu Stadium Friday to move to the top of the log table.
Bullets put up a spirited performance but it appeared that their comeback would be incomplete until Phiri’s clinical finish.
It was a perfect revenge for Bullets after they lost the first-round fixture 1-0 at Silver Stadium in May this year.
But it was a bitter pill to swallow for the Central Bankers, who are fighting to win their first league title since 2013.
The win has taken Bullets to the summit of the log table with 48 points from 22 matches, two points above Silver, who have played a game more. This is a dress rehearsal as the two sides will also meet in the quarterfinals of the FDH Bank Cup.
Phiri scored the winner in the 82nd minute to claim maximum points for the defending champions.
Hebert Wayekha gave Silver a first half lead when he headed in a Mark Fodya’s corner kick in the 46th minute but Chimwemwe Idana equalised for Bullets just after recess.
Bullets dominated the first half as Silver sat too deep. Misheck Selemani and Paul Kasungwi caused plenty of problems to Silver defence but wasted some good scoring opportunities.
Both teams made some changes in the second half as Bullets introduced Chiukepo Msowoya for Lanjesi Nkhoma before making a double substitution of Ernest Petro and Phiri for Macfallen Mgwira and Paul Kansungwi, respectively.
On the part of Silver, they brought in youngsters Zebron Kalima and Chinsinsi Maonga for Maxwell Phodo and Duncan Nyoni.
After the match, Bullets Assistant Coach Peter Mponda said his troops executed the game-plan well.
“We needed the three points more than them. The players followed instructions,” Mponda said, whose side will travel to Tanzania for Cecafa Cup.
Silver Assistant Coach Macdonald Mtetemera said the title race was not over.
“It was a painful defeat for us and it is bad to drop points at this stage. But we need to win seven remaining games so that we win the league,” Mtetemera said.
Action will continue today as third-placed Mighty Wanderers will face Mafco at Civo Stadium this afternoon. Mafco defeated Wanderers 1-0 in the first round at Kamuzu Stadium.