If Chemelil Sugar needed to prove that they have the grit and skin to escape the dreaded relegation axe then they showed it in plenty here at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu as they battled home side Western Stima to a one-all draw.
The Sugar Millers have had a roughy patch in the league occupying position 16 in the log with just five points prior to this fixture but their battling spirit extolled the fighting spirit of a side keen restamp it’s authority to protect it’s top tier status.
Stima, the home side, grabbed the lead in the 11th minute when Kevin Omondi headed in with aplomb from a corner but Chemelil drew level through Philip Mwangale’s neatly volleyed-finish from a right-flank looping cross.
Stima’s opener seemed to inject some spark in their play as they attacked with more purpose after a dull opening 20minutes in which the two sides failed to entertain.
In the 31st minute, Chemelil came knocking through Frank Doso but he missed a neat chance after using his lanky frame to shrug off challenges from his markers only to drag his shot narrowly wide with Stima custodian John Njau clearly beaten.
Robert Achema, deployed on the left-wing, was a constant menace to the Chemelil defence with his tricky runs turning out his markers with ease; his combination with first-half goal-hero Kevin Omondi nearly proving disastrous for the visitors with seven minutes to the break, but Omondi failed to place the ball in the net with all the defenders pulled towards Achema.
The visitors howeve patiently bade their time despite trailing before drawing level a minute to the break, Philip Mwangale volleying in to spark a fierce battle that spilled into the second half, but which produced no winner.
Three minutes after the interval, Stima coach Salim Babu rested Achama and in his place came Baron Oketch as he worked on a game plan to tame Chemelil.
Oketch`s introduction injected more punch upfront as he was involved in a one- two exchange with Abdalla Wankuru whose fierce trigger bounced off the cross bar in the 51st minute before a recovering Chemelil keeper Daniel Kiptoo punched the second-ball to safety.
Shortly thereafter Abdallah Wankuru made way for Henry Onyango and Chemelil tactician Cahrles Odero responded by bringing in the dreadlocked Samuel Ndung`u, taking the place of left-winger Frank Doso.
Stima will however feel undone after missing several gilt-edged chances, Baron Oketch seeing his goal-bound shot cleared off the line by Rashid Moto late in the second half.
The power men who prior to the match were seventh on 30 points, now boast of a point more after 18 matches while Chemelil Sugar who have had arguably their worst season in recent times thanks to the financial nightmare are on a paltry six points from as many number of games.
Stima`s next assignment is a tough test against champions Gor Mahia and going by the lethargy in the face of goal will have to pull up their socks if they are to salvage at least a point in that tough-looking clash.