The indefatigable Zoo Kericho came from a goal down to force a 1-1 draw with Kenyan Premier League champions elect, Gor Mahia, in a tough match played at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Sunday.
The Green Army who played before one of their smallest crowd ever at the historic grounds this season, took the game to their stubborn opponents from the start of the game.
Gor’s Medie Kagere netted his 12th goal of the season in the 63rd minute when he rolled with the ball on the left wing and outpaced his markers before unleashing a powerful shot that sneaked through the legs of goalkeeper Misikhu.
Zoo Kericho came back fighting and after 10 minutes they were at par when super sub Kepha Ondati fired home from the six yard box, his third goal of the season following a goalmouth melee.
The match, fiery in the early interval, saw Gor’s speedy striker Oliver Maloba penetrate through Zoo’s defence and with only goalkeeper Vincent Misikhu to beat, he booted the ball over the crossbar.
A minute later, K’Ogalo’s upcoming striker Anthony Mbugua raided the Zoo defence and after evading a tackle, his splitting blockbuster was grabbed by goalkeeper Vincent Misikhu.
Zoo’s best moment in the first half was in the 16th minute when overlapping Bernard Odhiambo put through Geoffrey Gichana with a long ball but Gichana failed to translate the spadework into a goal.
Gor’s Rwanda import Jacques Tuyisenge sandwiched himself between two Zoo defenders in the 40th minute and after evading their harsh tackle, released a feeble shot that was easily saved by goalkeeper Misikhu.
On resumption, Gor tactician Dylan Kerr introduced Francis Kahata, Timothy Otieno and George Omondi for Philemon Otieno, Boniface Omondi and Oliver Malone but this hardly shook the Zoo defence that was well marshaled by Isaak Kipyegon.
Zoo’s head coach Sammy Okoth responded by bringing in Kepha Ondati and Selenga Mangili for Bernard Odhiambo and Michael Madoya. Okoth was satisfied with his charges late comeback against the champions elect and hopes they will increase their points tallywhen they play Thika United at Moi Stadium Kisumu, before winding up the season against Sofapaka in Narok.
At the same time, AFC Leopards dusted off from their 2-0 loss to Nzoia United, returning to winning ways at home to Nakumatt FC, winning 1-0 to all but ease any relegation concerns.
Andrew Tololwa’s glancing header in the 12th minute was enough to give head coach Robert Matano’s men all the three points as they moved into 11th.
The result was a blow for Nakumatt who remain five points shy of the danger zone with coach Antony Mwangi decrying his side’s lack of cutting edge.
“We need six points and today we should have made it three. It’s close at the bottom so now the pressure is on us to win all of our remaining two matches,” Mwangi said.
The visitors had two penalty calls turned down with Mwangi admitting the complexion of the game would have completely changed had the referee awarded the “penalties”.
On the other hand,Matano was far from impressed despite the win, reiterating his need to reinforce the team for next season, especially with continental action now part of their plans.
“It’s obvious this team needs to be reinforced. And it’s normal to recruit. We have two more matches and we have to win those too,” he said.
At the Ruaraka Grounds, Thika United sealed a shock 1-0 win over deposed champions Tusker to boost their survival hopes as Bandari FC and Posta Rangers battled to a 0-0 draw in Mombasa.