City Stars fightback leaves Gor winless

George Odhiambo (2nd R) of Gor Mahia FC celebrates with teammates, Khalid Aucho (2nd L) ...
George Odhiambo (2nd R) of Gor Mahia FC celebrates with teammates, Khalid Aucho (2nd L) and Enock Agwanda (R) after scoring against City Stars FC during their Sportspesa Premier League match at the Nyayo National Stadium on March 12, 2016. The match ended 2-2. Photo/Stafford Ondego/Sportpicha

Nairobi City Stars came from behind to nick a point in a scintillating 2-2 draw with SportPesa Premier League champions, Gor Mahia on Saturday in a result that left both teams still searching for a win this season.

Kakamega Homeboyz stunned high flying Posta Rangers 2-1 in Kakamega and Western Stima forced a 1-1 draw at Ulinzi Stars in Nakuru as the soldiers missed the chance to jump to the top of the log for at least 24 hours.

At Nairobi’s Nyayo National Stadium, the three-peat titleholders fell behind to a Jimmy Bageya goal but turned the match in its head instantly when George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo notched a quick brace to give them a 2-1 lead, with the three goals coming in the space of three manic minutes at the end of the first half.

Joel Tata came off the bench to salvage a point for his team in the 67th minute in an open end to end encounter to inflict another blow to the aspirations of the record 15-time league winners to make history by sealing a fourth successive crown.

Gor inched up two places to 10th on four points while City Stars climbed from second bottom to 13th and both could be forced down the standings depending on Sunday fixtures having played a game more than those around them at the tail end of the table.

“I have to do something about the finishing because it is letting me down. All the matches I’ve played, even the ones I have lost, especially against Tusker, I still cry about it but football is a jungle, you must adapt to it or they are going to kill you.

“Holding the defending champions has left the boys motivated ahead of our next match,” City Stars boss, John ‘Bobby’ Ogolla, one of the architects of K’Ogalo’s unbeaten 2015 champions in his role as an assistant coach, said after denying his former charges a first win of the campaign.

For the second game in a row, Gor players trudged off the pitch to an angry backlash from their fans, with the team’s dwindling fortunes seeing most of them vote with their feet as they kept away from Nyayo that had huge swathes of empty spaces.

“Rachier Must Go! Rachier Must Go!” the irate supporters chanted as they waited for the team to emerge from the dressing room where they locked themselves in after the game.

Assistant coach, Frank Ouna who was in charge after head coach Frank Nutall resigned to join Egyptian giants, Zamalek midweek avoided the media after fulfilling his obligations with the broadcast sponsor.

Gor set upon City Stars from the first whistle as they fought to recover from last Sunday’s bitter 1-0 loss to archrivals and league leaders, AFC Leopards that ended their 17-month run without a loss in the competition.

Odhiambo, the 2010 Player of the Year who is re-discovering the magic that made him a fans favourite missed a clear chance in the sixth minute after failing to connect to Enock Agwanda’s dangerous pass.

Defender Harun Shakava rescued the champions when a mistake from Karim Nizigiyimana gifted City Stars the opportunity to enjoy a shock lead courtesy of Bageya who was a constant menace to K’Ogalo’s back line immediately after.

-Traded opportunities-

Gor Mahia FC and City Stars FC players converge after their Sportspesa Premier League match at the Nyayo national stadium on March 12, 2016. The match ended 2-2. Photo/Stafford Ondego/
Gor Mahia FC and City Stars FC players converge after their Sportspesa Premier League match at the Nyayo national stadium on March 12, 2016. The match ended 2-2. Photo/Stafford Ondego/

Agwanda and Bageya traded opportunities in the 16th and 17th before Peter Mwangi spurned a one-on-one with Gor captain and keeper, Jerim Onyango to put City Stars ahead. Agwanda was then wasteful when fed by a Niziyimana cross while the recalled midfielder, Khalid Aucho who was looking misfit short circuited promising attacks with poor passes.

Daniel Otieno then wasted another opportunity to beat Onyango when Gor’s defence was split to leave him with only the keeper to beat in the 35th but five minutes later, City Stars who were defending deep in numbers and springing swift counterattacks finally broke the deadlock.

Bageya got the goal, his second of the season in the 42nd but barely a minute later, Gor were level through Odhiambo and in the second minute of time added on in the half, Nizigiyimana delivered another of his telling crosses that was turned in by the same player to complete his double.

Ogolla brought on Mustafa Suma for the injured Ezekiel Omulo at the start of the second half and it was the Kawangware based side that got off to a better start when Arthur Museve’s forceful run through the middle ended up with a pitiful delivery to Otieno allowing the K’Ogalo captain to pick the ball easily in the 56th.

Aucho then found his Ugandan compatriot and fellow midfielder, Geoffrey Walusimbi on the edge of the box but his shot was driven wide before the former was put through by Odhiambo just outside City Stars penalty area but missed the connection in the 62nd.

Ogolla then brought on Tata for Otieno while Ouna rested Agwanda for Jacob Keli as both teams sought attacking impetus.

Tata had the bigger impact five minutes after coming on when he fashioned the equaliser when Bageya broke into a fine run from left, cut in to the box to find unmarked substitute who made no mistake and beat Onyango for a share of the spoils.

Stung, the champions through Nizigiyimana, who was having a fine game crossed in the box in search of the new K’Ogalo’s striker but Joshua Marwa in the City Stars defence cut it outwith the titleholders profligacy in front of goal this season evidenced when Walusimbi drove a defence-splitting ball to the box but there were no takers.

The Green Army was soon booing Ouna when he brought on Ronald Otieno for Walusimbi and soon they found themselves under pressure when Calvin Masawa’s free-kick from the centre circle forced Shakava to a goal saving block with Bageya ready to pounce as the rest of the game petered out to a stalemate with half chances to clinch a winner not taken.

In the battle of the SPL new boys, Homeboyz grabbed the three points despite falling behind to a Sunday Mutuku own goal in the 62nd minute with two late strikes from Ali Ahmed who notched the equaliser in the 72nd before Jeremiah Wanjala claimed the winner in the 80th for their first victory of the season.

Posta who suffered their first defeat remained fifth on eight points as Homeboyz rose to 12th with four points, same as Gor.

At the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, Robert Matano’s military men missed the chance to leapfrog Leopards to the summit when they came from behind to salvage a point against the visiting Stima.

Ulinzi who are a point adrift of Leopards having played a game more trailed to a Baron Oketch goal in the 55th before Daniel Waweru levelled matters in the 73rd. Elsewhere on Saturday, a Moses Arita last minute goal gave Muhoroni Youth a precious 1-0 away victory at Sony Sugar that left their hosts bottom and winless as they rose to eighth.

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Story By Jacob Icia
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