2022 TNM Super League leaders Blue Eagles underlined their intent to mount a serious challenge for the title when they opened a five point lead over Champions Nyasa Big Bullets with an important 1-0 win over Silver Strikers at the Nankhaka Ground on Sunday.
Substitute Laurent Banda scored deep in extra time to hand the Eliah Kananji side all three points and extend their unbeaten run to seven games this season.
As Eagles were soaring high at Nankhaka, the case was different for fellow league runners Mighty Wanderers and Civo United who dropped three points each after Wanderers lost 1-2 at home to Kamuzu Barracks while Civo United were beaten away 1-0 away at Rumphi.
The Area 30 side now have 19 points from seven games, five ahead of Nyasa Bullets who have played a game less and play Moyale at the Mzuzu Stadium on Wednesday. Defeat for Silver leaves the Bankers in 10th position with just eight points from six matches while Wanderers have dropped into position five with 10 points from six games. Civo are a point below Wanderers with nine points though the Servants have played a game more.
The 1-2 away win over Mighty Wanderers has pushed Kamuzu Barracks up the log table, leapfrogging to the third position with 13 points from six games after the Chiwoko Boys had started the day in fourth position.
At Nankhaka, Silver were looking to recover from last Monday’s 1-1 shock home draw against Dedza Dynamos while the Eagles were hoping to continue their impressive run this season which has seen them go six games without defeat, winning five and drawing one and conceding just two goals this far.
However it was Silver who started on a high troubling the on loan Eagles goalie Brighton Munthali who was facing his parent club.
Silver’s game was disrupted 10 minutes into the first half as coach Daniel Kabwe was forced to make two quick substitutions due to injuries.
Returning midfielder Blessings Tembo was taken off for Duncan Nyoni after what seemed to be a recurring knee problem and red hot striker Chawanangwa Kaonga was withdrawn for Maxwell Phodo after a collision with Eagles defender Sankhani Mkandawire.
Silver continue piling pressure and Stain Dave could have put the visitors ahead after he was set up by Phodo but his effort went over the bar.
Five minutes from half time Dave had another chance but this time he was denied by Munthali who reacted quickest to parry away Dave’s header who had rose highest to connect a Mark Fodyas’ freekick from the right forcing the two teams to go into the recess goalless.
In the second half both teams made substitutions with Eagles bringing on Laurent Banda and Ian Chinyama for Onesimo Mbendera and Trouble Banda.
As for Silver, Captain Taonga Chimodzi was withdrawn alongside Mark Fodya and Zebron Kalima for Frank Banda,Chikondi Kamanga and Tatenda Mmbalaka.
And silver continued to pile more pressure but the Eagles defence led by the experienced Sankhani Mkandawire was always on high alert.
And when the game seemed destined for a goalless draw Substitute Laurent Banda was the hero of the day when, three minutes into stoppage time, he connected home a Schumacher Kuwali cross from the right to send the Eagles supporters into wild celebrations.
That would be the last kick of the day as after play resumed referee Easter Zimba blew the final whistle to mark an end to an entertaining affair.