Leopards, Mathare Shoot Blanks As Thika Hold Rangers
NAIROBI, Kenya- Former champions AFC Leopards SC and Mathare United FC played out to a barren draw as the SportPesa Premier League (SPL) resumed after a three-week break on Saturday.
Elsewhere, Thika United FC jumped up to 15th on the SPL log despite sharing a 2-2 draw with high flying Posta Rangers FC who inched up to third as Chemelil Sugar FC sunk Nzoia Sugar FC 2-1 in round 14 encounters.
The results left Mathare who won the title in 2008 facing a relegation dogfight after slipping to second from bottom on 10 points, the same tally with basement side Western Stima FC who have a game in hand.
The first stanza of the Ingwe, Slumboys clash lacked inspiration as both teams exercised caution save for the moments of brilliance from youngster Vincent Oburu, who caused panic in the Mathare box.
In the 13th minute of the encounter, the former Langata High School player beat all Mathare defenders before side stepping the on-coming former Ingwe keeper Wycliffe Kasaya but his finish drifted wide.
A moment of hesitation then saw him miss out on a chance to score when Oburu allowed Martin Ongori to clear the ball.
Ghanaian striker Gilbert Fiamenyo also spurned an open opportunity at the half-hour when he received a great pass from Andrew Tololwa but his end product lacked the conviction to beat Kasaya who beat his shot out for a fruitless corner.
Mathare too had a good sniff at goal including one in the 37th when Alphonce Ndonye made a break on the right flank to release the ball to Chrispin Oduor.
With the Leopards rearguard static, Oduor tested custodian Ian Otieno who dived the right way to snuff out the threat.
After the break, Mathare boss Francis Kimanzi pulled out the error-prone Kasaya for Levis Opiyo.
The replacement keeper was then forced to brilliantly claw away a scorcher from Oburu in the 56th after the left-footed forward once again sliced through the Mathare defence.
Heeding the warning, Mathare kept a close eye on their tormentor as Oburu’s influence in the game waned.
Their best chance of the second half came on the 69th when Lennox Ogutu rose the highest to head the ball from a corner taken by David Owino but keeper Otieno tipped the effort that was on target over the crossbar.
At Thika, a brace from Shammy Kibwana almost gave Nicholas Muyoti’s home side victory over Rangers but debutant Kennedy ‘Agogo’ Otieno rescued the point for the mailmen with a last minute equalizer.
John Nairuka had scored for the Rangers in the 60th to reduce the arrears after Kibwana found the back of the net in the 35th and 45th minutes of the first half.
At the Chemelil Sports Complex, the home team came from behind to claim maximum points against the hard-fighting Nzoia.
Masita Masuta gave the visitors a lead on the 18th for the advantage that stood until the half-time break.
Two minutes into the second stanza John Mwita expertly notched the leveller before the same player went down in the box from the challenge of Victor Omondi in the 56th to be awarded a penalty.
Victor Majid stepped up to dispatch the spot kick home for the victory as Chemelil rose to seventh with Nzoia remaining rooted in 11th.