Sharks, KCB, Vihiga win as promotion race hots up
National Super League (NSL) sides Kariobangi Sharks, KCB and Vihiga United won their Saturday league fixtures as the top six sides pulled at least 11 points clear of the chasing pack but Patience Lukige took the biscuit when sunk a hat-trick in Wazito FC’s rousing 4-2 victory over fast-fading Agro Chemicals.
Sharks moved to within a point of second-placed Zoo on 65 when they hammered struggling Shabana FC (13) who now must win their remaining five games and hope Ligi Ndogo (21) who are directly above them on the NSL log fail to pick any victory to habour hopes of survival.
Fifth-placed Vihiga (60) edged Bidco United (47/eighth) 1-0 with Eli Lamodei claiming all three points with his 67th minute winner as his side inched to within two of Nakumatt FC who sit fourth but with a game in hand.
KCB are only below Vihiga on goal-difference a position adrift with the Bankers who featured in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) last season ruing why form has come so late to push for a swift return to the top division after winning their fourth match on the bounce in a 2-1 triumph over the hapless Ligi Ndogo.
In the most thrilling clash of the day, visiting Agro wasted little time to nose ahead in the second minute of their clash against Wazito but the lead barely lasted 60 seconds as Lukige made it 1-1 almost straight from kick-off.
The cracker of an opening saw Lukige notch his double in the 12th before Pistone Mutamba seemingly made the tie safe when he struck for 3-1 only two minutes after the break.
Lukige promptly earned the match ball with his treble on 50 before Oyugi Siwa ignited hopes of a stirring comeback when he halved the deficit in the 68th with the result elevating Wazito (41) to 11th as Agro dropped to ninth (45).
At Kasarani Stadium, goals from Patillah Omoto, Ibrahim Kitawi and Matthew Odongo propelled the Sharks to within touching distance of Zoo who travel to Nakumatt on Sunday in the highlight NSL clash of the weekend.
In an earlier fixture in the same venue, Kennedy ‘Daddy’ Owino and Michael Oyando were on target for KCB before Simon Pierre pulled one back for Ligi Ndogo from the spot in the dying minutes.
The visitors came into the match without a win in their last three and almost exposed their frailties soon after kick-off when Oyando broke free only for custodian Charles Ouma to come to their rescue.
Moments later, Oyando fired from long range but Ouma was equal to it.
However, the hosts were not to be denied in the 25th minute as Owino steered a simple finish past Ouma after a neat cross from midfielder Martin Nderitu.
Ligi Ndogo should have equalized from a counter-attack but defender John Odhiambo arrived in time to make the block.
The Bankers doubled their lead just before the break after clever build-up play in the midfield set Peter Mwachi racing downfield and the midfielder squared back for Oyando to slot home.
After the restart, Owino nearly grabbed but his fierce effort came off the crossbar.
The visitors were awarded for their relentless push for a goal as defender Simon Pierre was punished for shoving inside the penalty area in the 86th minute with Pierre notching the consolation.
Elsewhere, goals on either side of the breather lifted Nairobi Stima to a 2-0 victory at home to St. Joseph FC to bounce back after losing to Sharks midweek in an outcome that left them 10th (44) as the losers remained stuck just above the drop zone with 25.
Anthony Owuor claimed the opener in the 41st before Eugene Akoth wrapped the victory on the 63rd for Stima who fell by a similar margin on Wednesday.
St. Joseph’s are not put of the relegation woods yet since Ligi Ndogo can catch them with only four separating them with five to play.
There was little to write home about in the fixture between Nakuru All Stars who failed to replicate their stunning performance when they handed runaway leaders Nzoia United (79) a first defeat of the season in Nakuru when they were forced to a barren stalemate by visiting former two-time national league champions Oserian.
The shared point did little to move them up the log with Oserian 13th (37) four points and two places ahead of the home side that was relegated from the KPL last season.
Nzoia hope to recover quickly after their stinging 2-1 defeat late on when they welcome Palos (49) who are sitting seventh as Police FC who were hammered 5-0 by the leaders last weekend travelling to play Moyas FC in the rest of the Sunday line-up.
Modern Coast Rangers host FC Talanta in Mombasa to conclude the weekend programme on Monday.
-Report by Richard Obaga.
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