Echesa denies Wanga the glory as Chemelil hold Tusker
A game that started with controversy ended in high drama when leaders Tusker FC blew the chance to extend their lead at the summit of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) by conceding an equaliser deep in stoppage time in an enthralling 2-2 draw with Chemelil Sugar in Machakos on Sunday.
After the huff and puff of 90 minutes, former 2007 title-winning teammates at Tusker, Allan Wanga and Hillary Echesa turned the contest a into a personal duel in the last two minutes of an incredible stoppage time.
The headlines would have been all about returning hero Wanga grabbing a winner at the death from the bench when his diving header put Tusker 2-1 up with the clock reading 94 minutes.
The goal ignited maniacal celebrations among the Brewers players and bench inadvertedly adding more time to the five allocated at the end of the 90 and they were made to pay almost from the restart.
A long ball was headed down for Echesa who punctured the party for his former employers when he controlled smartly and finished calmly past David Okello.
It sparked incredible scenes at the final whistle with Paul Nkata’s players and the technical bench sinking to their feet seconds after toasting what was in all likelihood the game-clincher as their opponents clad in green went bananas at snatching a draw that felt like victory.
Francis Baraza’s side deserved something from the game since they matched Tusker for large spells and thought they had taken the lead in the 10th minute with a headed goal wrongly adjudged to be offside by match officials according to television replays.
The incident will do little to quell talk KPL front runners and other big teams in the league benefit from suspect officiating with the incident coming hot in the heels of AFC Leopard’s equaliser against Mathare United on Saturday that was seemingly scored from an offside position.
The sugar millers were further aggrieved when Lloyd Wahome gave Tusker the lead on the stroke of half-time but Chemelil battled back to level in through Willis Ouma in the 76th minute.
That set up the grand stand finish and the sight of Wanga coming off the bench after stints home and abroad after winning the title with the Brewers in 2007 was Nkata’s trump card.
And it almost paid off handsomely when the veteran striker showed age has not blunt his goal-poaching instincts when he ghosted to the box and flung himself to a low delivery from a corner that Chemelil’s defence thought was going out of play from point blank range.
Wanga with his teammates in tow then raced to the corner flag on the opposite end for a celebratory jig as Tusker’s bench erupted.
But Echesa denied his former teammate all the glory in cruel fashion when he rounded the exposed Omondi to tuck in the equaliser with the clock running well past 95 minutes.
Baraza had brought on Erastus Mwaniki attack long balls floated to the box and when one was delivered from deep more in an act of desperation than purpose with seconds running out, Tusker’s defence, just like their visitors a minute before, switched off to allow the lanky player to set up Echesa to snatch the dramatic draw.
Tusker will still end round 18 top of the KPL summit with 36 points as Chemelil inched up to eighth (24) ahead of the later Sunday matches but from the Brewers perspective, this was a chance lost to put further daylight with the chasing pack.
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