Gor open gap as Leopards rally to rescue point
Domestic giants Gor Mahia FC went three points clear at the top of the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) table following their 1-0 win away at Nzoia Sugar as AFC Leopards’ woeful run rolled on at the Kenyatta Stadium, Machakos on Sunday.
Hosting a lowly Zoo Kericho FC on the back of a four-match winless streak, Leopards had hoped to pick a valuable win to re-ignite their campaign but instead had to rally late to rescue a point.
For umpteenth time, Ghanain striker Gilbert Fiamenyo was on mark to ensure Ingwe were spared from the blushes when he scored with four minutes left to play as the two sides settled for a one-all draw.
At the Mumias Complex, striker Meddie Kagere’s first half strike was enough as Gor made it three wins in as many matches, opening their gap over second-placed Posta Rangers whose clash with Nakumatt FC ended in a dour 0-0 draw.
Kagere put the visitors in front in the 14th minute before the hosts spurned the chance to pull one back from the spot kick as goalkeeper Bonface Oluoch made a huge save.
Gor should have at least doubled their lead minutes before the break but George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo and Timothy Otieno each squandered chances on goal.
Their was little action to write home in the second half with K’Ogalo Head Coach Jose Marcelo ‘Ze Maria’ Ferreira saying he was pleased with the full time result.
“It was a very tough match but my players gave their all throughout. They played quite and I can now say we’ve gained some moentum in the league,” Ze Maria told Citizen Digital.
His counterpart Bernard Mwalala decried wastefulness as his charges slumped to their second successive defeat.
“We created many chances the like of Masita Masuta by we wasted them. We need to concentrate on scoring in the next match to avoid such disappointments,” Mwalala lamented.
At Machakos, Zoo who are in their first ever season in the top flight seemed to be on course for a famous win over 12-time champions Ingwe when Stanlaus Akiya netted in the 58th before Fiamenyo came off the bench to deliver a late leveller.
Speaking after the match, Ingwe assistant coach Dennis Kitambi said the draw was a welcome coming from Gor Mahia and Sony Sugar 3-0 and 1-0 defeats respectively.
“It is a boost to us ahead of our match against Kakamega Homeboyz. We were had Fiamenyo and Kateregga start on the bench because as a disciplinary action and we had to rely on players we are developing.
“The two were involved in a scuffle in the last match therefore hence the decision,” Kitambi underscored.
His opposite number Sammy Okoth decried harassment by Leopards’ stewards before the match, but congratulated his charges for the point.
“It was a good match, clearly we were the better side although we lost concentration towards the end.
“We are progressing well, and our results so far indicate we are not at the same level we were at the start of the season,” Okoth offered.
Paul Mungai Kiongera had a glorious chance in the first minute, captain Johstone Ligare intercepting his shot for a corner, that was well handled by goalkeeper Vincent Misikhu.
Zoo responded immediately with Nicholas Kipkirui capitalising on Harun Nyakha and Joshua Mawira’s miscommunication only to shoot straight at the keeper.
Geoffrey Gachana and Michael Madoya were on the verge of getting the first when the referee ruled the latter was offside.
In the 58th Akiya broke the deadlock with a powerful header past Andika after a series of passes and a failed clearance in the box, from corner kick build up.
Leopards Head Coach Stewart Hall reacted immediately withdrawing Nyakha for Fiamenyo, before introducing Allan Kateregga shortly for Marcus Abwao.
The two forwards added the mettle Ingwe was lacking and pressed harder, pinning the visitors to their own half for most of the latter stages.
Feeling the pressure, Zoo’s coach Sammy Okoth brought on defender Sindani Sibiri for Leonard Mmata in the 73rd.
Kipkirui could have doubled the lead in the 80th only to blast outside his shot with only Andika to beat.
Two minutes later, Misikhu denied Isuza from a one on one situation before Fiamenyo missed narrowly in the box.
Just when Zoo thought they had all the three points wrapped up Fiamenyo popped up with the equalizer four minutes to time, connecting Kamura’s free kick into the back of the net.
Pumped up, Leopards camped in Zoo’s goal in search of the winner with Misikhu called to action four times within six last minutes. The breakthrough, however, remained elusive.
-Report by Jacob Icia and Geoffrey Mwamburi.
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