Ten-man Gor Mahia put up a spirited fight to edge Tusker FC 1-0 in a very physical Kenya Premier League (KPL) clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos Wednesday.
The inform striker Nicholas Kipkirui netted the all important goal in the 57th minute rising high above the ‘brewers’ defence and heading in Samuel Onyango’s right footed corner thrusting his side to second on 29 points, two off leaders Bandari FC.
Mathare United, also on 29 points, drop to third as they have a weaker goal difference compared to K’Ogalo.
Both sides got the afternoon ticking with a fair share of chances on both ends but it was the visitors who enjoyed a slightly fatter share of the ball.
K’Ogallo were forced into an early change after first choice goalkeeper Boniface Oluoch was given matching orders by referee Caroline Wanjala for handling the ball outside his territory after Tusker forward David Juma was set up by a fine through ball from the middle of the pack.
Oluoch stopped Robert Matano’s men from taking the lead in the 26th, but his decision was met with a red card forcing boss Hassan Oktay to sacrifice goal hunter George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo, as back-up goal keeper Shaban Odhoji took up the mantle between the sticks.
The K’Ogallo no. 1 left the pitch limping in what seemed like an injury ahead of their CAF Confederations return leg face-off with Algeria’s NA Hussein Dey in Algiers on Sunday.
Midfielder Samuel Onyango got close to giving the hosts the lead in the first half on three occasions, being denied by the right hand side of Emery Mvuyekure’s post on the stroke of the first half.
The two sides came back for the second half ready to bag all the three points and a series of attacks were lodged on both ends with Gor Mahia the first to reap, 12 minutes into the second half, after goal poacher Nicholas Kipkirui got onto to the end of Shafik Batambuze’s right footed corner.
Matano’s troops lobbied for an equaliser as substitute Bill Oporia got on target by heading in a corner in the 80th minute but the referee ruled it out for a foul on the goal keeper in the build up.
A couple of moments after blowing up a glorious opportunity to double the hosts’ lead, Rwandese forward Jacques Tuyisenge made way for veteran striker Dennis Oliech with five minutes of normal time remaining, marking the first appearance for ‘Wuod Maria’ as he is known in some quarters after the much-publicised pay dispute with the Gor hierarchy.
Oliech and Onyango both came close in the final moments of the game but sent the ball flying onto the stands, with the Kipkirui solitary goal getting the job done for the 17-time KPL champions.