Yanga SC failed to open an eight-point gap on top of the Tanzania Mainland League table after settling for a 1-1 draw with their hosts Mbeya City at Sokoine Stadium on Saturday.
The former champions' goal was scored by captain Deus Kaseke with their opponents replying through Pastory Athanas.
Wananchi came into the match hungry for maximum points to ensure there is more light between them and defending champions Simba SC, who are second on the table.
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However, they did not find it easy against Mbeya City who are firmly rooted in the relegation zone. It was the second time the two teams were meeting and the hosts were aiming at getting at least a point after falling by a solitary goal the last time the two teams met in the top tier.
On Saturday, the hosts, despite coming into the match as underdogs, managed to give a good account of themselves and managed to hold their visitors to a goalless draw in the first half.
Even after the break, it seemed Mbeya had done enough to get a point when the clock hit the 80th minute without them conceding. It looked a done deal with five minutes to go; but seconds after the 85th minute, the 27-time champions finally managed to get a breakthrough.
Their skipper Kaseke capitalised on a concentration lapse to find the back of the net and at that point, their supporters had every reason to believe they had sealed maximum points.
However, it was not the case as the hosts did their best hoping to get an equalizer and a point. With seconds to go, they were rewarded when Athanas managed to score and deny Timu ya Wananchi maximum points.
In another game played on Saturday, Biashara Mara United managed to reduce the gap between them and third-placed Azam FC to just a point after a 2-1 win over Mwadui FC.
Abdumajib Mangalo opened the scoring in favour of the hosts in the 85th minute. However, the Francis Baraza-led charges replied in the first minute of added time courtesy of Yusuph Mhilu before Gershon Kabeja sealed the win with seconds to go.
Yanga are top with 45 points while Mbeya are in the 17th position with 15. On the other hand, Biashara are fourth with 32 points while Mwadui are at the bottom of the table with 15 points after 19 games.