Ulinzi Stars hold Gor Mahia in Kisumu
Gor Mahia dropped points only for the second time this season as Ulinzi Stars forced the champions to settle for their first Kenyan Premier League (KPL) draw at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu on Saturday.
Ulinzi fended off late pressure from the champions with an expert display of composed defending to climb up into third on the standings on 21 points, four adrift Gor who remain top with two games in hand.
There was an avalanche of goals elsewhere with a total 17 goals scored across three other league fixtures featuring Wazito who pummeled basement side Chemelil Sugar 6-0 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Elvis Rupia netted an 11-minute hat-trick across two halves in that match with Derrick Otanga, Victor Ndinya and Piston Mutamba adding one each in the rout that condemned Chemelil to their 10th loss of what is turning to be a nightmare campaign.
Ulinzi were welcoming back last season’s KPL Golden Boot winner Enosh Ochieng after four matches out with injury while Gor captain Kenneth Muguna was once again omitted from the match day squad amid intense speculations on his future.
A cross from Bernard Ondiek caused confusion in the Ulinzi box with Harun Mwale crashing into his goalkeeper Timothy Odhiambo yet Samuel Onyango who was closest to that action failed to get a touch on the ball.
Clifton Miheso then did well to bring down a long ball from midfield but he touched it onto his unfavoured right foot and his shot attempt from a tight angle flew to the other end of the pitch where it was picked up by Goeffrey Ochieng.
The defender swung a cross into the back post where Francis Afriyie was sneaking into but Brian Birgen was aware of it and simply blocked his path as the ball rolled harmlessly outside for goal kick.
The visitors were able to conjure up a great chance on the stroke of half time when Harun Mwale cut back a low cross which was met by Oscar Wamalwa but it was a bit behind him and he had to check his stride before hurling it over the bar.
After a slow restart, Miheso found Afriyie on the right after a long run through midfield and the Ghanaian’s cross was too close to the goalkeeper and he was able to collect easily with Onyango and Gislein Yikpe waiting to pounce.
A rebound fell kindly to Daniel Waweru on the other end and the forward lined up a shot which came off the foot of Ochieng and out for a fruitless corner.
Coach Benjamin Nyangweso hauled off Wamalwa and brought Ezekiel Okare in his place as he sought fresh firepower at the front with his opposite number Steve Pollack responding by substituting Miheso for Dickson Ambundo.
Gor upped the tempo in the final 10 minutes, making quicker passing moves and pressing higher into the Ulinzi third yet the breakthrough remained elusive with the visitors happy to sit back in numbers and rely on counter attacks.
Tobias Otieno did well to escape a challenge from Bernard Ongoma with some good shielding play and was able to find Ambundo in the penalty area. The substitute controlled it for Afriyie from a knock down with his chest but the Ghanaian was crowded out and his shot was blocked.
Another break orchestrated by Lawrence Juma freed Afriyie on the left and the forward’s cross was headed clear before another effort by Juma was thwarted after goalkeeper Odhiambo had gifted possession to the hands of the opposition with a fumbled save.