KPL All Stars go down fighting to Hull
The Kenyan Premier League All Stars got the lesson in football they desired on Monday night when they bravely went down 2-1 to their English Premier opponents, Hull City Select XI.
Substitute Elliot Holmes and an own goal from Haron Shakava gave Hull a 2-0 lead before the Kenyans made history by scoring the first goal from team from their nation on English soil in a game marred by a dreadful head injury to teenage defender Max Sheaf.
All Stars coach Stanley Okumbi opted to mirror the home side formation of 4-3-1-2 by blending youth and experience and was rewarded in the end when Humphrey Mieno, one of his most seasoned men, scored a thumping goal on the stroke of full time.
The match started in a frenzied fashion as the much younger hosts wasted no time in showing the gulf in quality, ironically, by running their visitors from a country reputed as an athletics superpower rugged.
Select XI boss, Richard O’Donnell fielded a side composed of five first-teamers at the EPL club playing alongside youngsters chosen from the Hull Under 16, Under 18 and Under 20 sides with folk hero and now coach, striker Dean Windass named surprisingly on the bench.
On a rainy, bitterly cold night in Northern England, the Select Tigers took only two minutes to exploit the right flank marshalled by veteran Tusker FC captain Situma who had a torrid outing when Josh Tymon skipped past his feeble challenge and advanced to the box only for his shot to be cleared by Haron Shakava.
Then Man of the Match and Hull field captain, Greg Olley then stepped into the picture making the first half his show.
He first found Ben Hinchliffe with a sumptuous through ball on the right before the forward advanced and fizzled a shot just wide of Patrick Matasi in the All Stars goal.
Almost instantaneously, the ball was hoofed forward and the pacey KPL 2016 Golden Boot winner and Ulinzi Stars forward, John Makwata went down under a poor challenge from behind by Stephen Akbas.
With only six minutes on the clock, panic spread through the All Stars box when Robinson Kamura attempted and his centre half partner, Shakava made a harsh of clearing the ball with Matasi stranded but Hull did not pounce.
The historic exhibition match that had a commendable crowd of 8,000 spectators was then stunned to horror when Western Stima defender Wesley Onguso and opposing left wing back Sheaf were involved in an accidental nasty collision of the heads 10 minutes in.
Immediately, play was stopped to attend to the Hull teenager who will celebrate his 17th birthday next month as medics rushed to the KCOM Stadium turf to attend to the stricken defender.
It evoked painful memories of the loss of Hull senior captain, Ryan Mason who suffered a head concussion when he collided with EPL leaders Chelsea defender, Gary Cahill in their 3-1 loss at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago.
After treatment lasting 10 minutes, Sheaf was stretchered off to a standing ovation from the crowd to be replaced by Holmes- another teenager.
On the sidelines Onguso who had also been asked to leave the pitch despite getting up relatively unharmed from the unfortunate challenge as both went for a goal kick was pictured almost in tears and visibly shocked by the incident.
Once play resumed after the lengthy stoppage, substitute Holmes took less than 120 seconds to get on the score sheet, the clock reading 23 minutes when he rose to power a bullet header past a stationary Matasi who was rooted to the spot.
Again, Olly was the architect, threading a precise ball to the right that was whipped in with a pin-point cross that left the substitute with the simplest of tasks- directing it on target with Shakava and Kamura criminally leaving the Hull player unmarked.
Barely two minutes later, it was almost 2-0 as Matasi was forced to scramble the ball away with his feet on the left flank to the Tigers attack as Onguso who had hared forward was caught out of station.
Back came Hull and only the offside flag prevented them from doubling their advantage when Olly found Jarrod Bowen who had strayed beyond his last marker.
Makwata, who impressed in the opening period then had the chance to level scores in the 27th but dragged his shot harmlessly across goal and from a sleek counter, Matasi was forced to a flying fingertip save to deny Ben Hinchcliffe a certain second goal for Hull.
Starved of possession, All Stars resorted to using route one football and one found Makwata who then squared for Wanga but before the Tusker forward could fire, Josh Tymon was on him in a flash, hooking away the ball from danger in the 35th.
In the 38th, the crowd was treated to a moment of magic when skipper Olly slalomed past the Kenyan defence like a ballerina on the right and expertly cut back for Bowen who sliced his finish over with Matasi well beaten.
With 10 minutes added on following the injury to Sheaf who was rushed to the nearest hospital, Makwata came close to hauling his side level when he forced teenage Hull keeper, Charlie Andrew into a magnificent save with a swerving shot after cutting into the edge of the box.
-All Stars comeback-
Okumbi hauled in the eldest man on his side, former Gor Mahia captain, Moses ‘Dube’ Odhiambo of Sofapaka FC for the ineffectual Amos Nondi, 20, with ten minutes of the second half gone as he sought to get a grip on the midfield by injecting more experience.
All Stars then forced two quick corners in succession that came to naught, the second a downward header that was sent straight to the arms of Andrew as the Kenyans grew in prominence after the breather.
In the 59th, Makwata side footed another chance just wide from outside the box after being given a sniff on goal by Wanga and the pair could not beat the teenage keeper Andrew just past the hour mark when the former went in for a through ball inside the danger area.
Makwata only succeeded in pushing the ball to the path of Wanga whose low shot was turned out by the Hull keeper using his legs before Andrew turned out another looping ball out for a corner.
In the 64th, Makwata was hauled down after being sent on his way by Odhiambo a few metres from the box and Kamura stepped up to send the free-kick fractionally wide of the Hull goal although Andrew was well behind it.
Disaster then struck for All Stars when Shakava turned the ball into his own net in the 66th after the Tigers pounced on the counter, the ball being worked to Hinchliffe in acres of space by who else, Olly.
It was a sucker punch for Okumbi’s side who had bossed possession and chances with the Hull winger delivering a wicked, low hard cross into the box that forced the retreating defender, 24, to concede the own goal with Matasi once again caught cold.
Makwata then missed his best chance of the night when his downward header in the 71st bobbled across goal and harmlessly out after being set up by a delightful cross from Odhiambo who was spraying them all over the park since his introduction with Andrew out of the equation.
A rip-roaring reception bellowed out from the stands when Windass, the man who brought EPL football to Hull City seven years ago by scoring the winner in the Championship play-off, replaced the goal scorer with just under quarter of an hour left to the contest as the fans paid their respects to a legend.
Kamura then came close to scoring a second own goal from the night when a cross aimed at Windass was turned behind for the corner in the 80th.
Windass then had a pop from a free-kick as the crowd howled in anticipation but the ball ended just wide of Matasi’s goal.
The busy Makwata then found the side-netting with five minutes left with the keeper well off his line as Okumbi who brought on Geoffrey Kataka for Collins Satuyi immediately after watched on exasperated.
On 87 minutes, KCOM Stadium rose to salute Mieno after he made history as the first scorer of a Kenyan team in England and he rifled it in with panache, taking aim from range before beating Andrew by firing the ball to the bottom right hand corner.
It was a rare sight at the venue as home fans applauded an opposition goal in what encouraged Okumbi’s side went in for the equaliser to force penalties.
On the stroke of full time, Monday forced Andrew to parry his fierce left footed drive back in play before Wanga skied the rebound over.
In the end, it was not to be but All Stars were at least not embarrassed by their superior opponents.
HULL CITY XI: Charlie Andrew (GK), Stephen Akbas, Ben Adamson, Jacob Greaves, Josh Tymon, Max Sheaf, Greg Olley, Jarrod Bowen, Marc Kennedy, Ben Hinchliffe, Greg Luer
SUBS: Carthwright (GK), Dunkerley, Wilson Rhiney, Holmes, Windass
COACH: Richard O’Donnell
KPL ALL STARS: Patrick Matasi (GK), James Situma, Robinson Kamura, Haron Shakava, Wesley Onguso, Osborne Monday, Humphrey Mieno, Cliff Satuyi, Amos Nondi, John Makwata, Allan Wanga
SUBS: Okello (GK), Oruchum, Nyakha, Kataka, Ndung’u, Odhiambo, Otieno
COACH: Stanley Okumbi
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