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Thika Defy Gor; Rangers, Ulinzi Shoot Blanks

Gor Mahia FC's Harun Shakava is tackled by Thika United FC's Samuel Mwanje in a previous SportPesa Premier League clash. Shakava has been ruled out of Harambee Stars squad for 2017 Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup with injury. PHOTO/SPN
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NAIROBI, Kenya- Gor Mahia FC’s relentless pursuit for a record 16th SportPesa Premier League (SPL) was cooled on Sunday in a barren draw at relegation threatened Thika United FC.

The league leaders are still on course of reclaiming the crown they lost last season despite dropping two points at the Thika Sub-County Stadium.

K’Ogalo, who lacked the services of in form forward Jacques Tuyisenge, inched up to 51 points, nine ahead of second placed Sofapaka FC who drew 0-0 with Kariobangi Sharks FC on Saturday.

With a game in hand against Ulinzi Stars FC, Dylan Kerr’s charges are still in control of the title race as the SPL enters the homestretch.

The hosts played with intent from the onset, taking the game to the leaders who sat to spring the counter.

Bright start 

The first 20 minutes saw Thika create a glut of chances with Mwinyi Kibwana testing Boniface Oluoch in Gor’s goal.

Nicholas Muyoti’s three-pronged attack of Said Tsuma, Eugene Mukangula and Saad Musa looked lively as they troubled Gor’s defence line led by captain Musa Mohammed.

After weathering the early assault, the visitors had an opportunity to break the deadlock in the 23rd minute after Suleiman Ngotho’s deflection from a Kenneth Muguna shot forced a corner kick.

Godfrey Walusimbi’s delivery was intercepted by Dennis Odhiambo who orchestrated a counter attack.

The ball found Mwinyi who then produced a clever lob over Oluoch but his goal was disallowed for offside.

In the 27th, Musa broke down the midfield to find Mukangula with a pin point through pass but the latter’s feeble shot was easily picked by Gor keeper.

Meddie Kagere,  who had a new attacking partner in Timothy Otieno, then had his goal from a glancing header ruled out for offside as the first half came to a close.

Desperate to find the back of the net, Kerr made changes to his side at the restart.

Oliver Maloba replaced the stocky Ernest Wendo in the 56th; the team reverting to 4-4-2 formation from the 4-2-3-1 they had started with.

Thika however,  remained resolute in defence and a threat to Gor’s back line.

In the 65th, Mwinyi combined with Mukangula who teed up Musa but the former Nairobi City Stars FC’s man lacked the killer instinct allowing Gor’sKarim Nizigiyimana to clear the lines.

With the clock ticking and Gor fans pressuring their players for a goal, Kerr made yet another substitution.

He pulled out an off-colour Timothy Otieno for top scorer Tuyisenge in the 70th.

Late surge 

Tuyisenge almost found the back of the net four minutes later but his shot from Maloba pass fell into the relieved Allan Owiny’s hands.

Francis Kahata then replaced George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo as Gor pressed for a winner and Muyoti reacted by introducing speedy winger Francis Muturi for Benson Iregi with 10 minutes to go.

Gor pitched camp in Thika’s half in the remaining minutes but it was a little too late to change the score line; both sides settling for a share of the spoils in the end.

In an earlier match played at the same venue, Posta Rangers FCwinless streak was stretched to seven after battling to another 0-0 draw with Ulinzi Stars FC.

The result left both sides locked on 37 points with Ulinzi having two games in hand.


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