NAIROBI, July 8- Barely days after coming in for stinging criticism with Harambee Stars, Michael Olunga, extended his lead at the Kenyan Premier League top scorers’ chart by heading in the second in a 2-0 win over Thika United on Wednesday.
The lanky 21 year-old who failed to find the target as Stars limped out of the 2016 CHAN qualifiers in a barren draw against Ethiopia’s Walia Ibex last Saturday, put the gloss to the performance after Ugandan midfielder, Godfrey Walusimbi put the champions in front.
It took his personally tally to 12 and restored unbeaten K’Ogalo’s lead at the top of the KPL pile to a similar number of points after closest rivals Sofapaka trimmed it to nine points after their 1-0 away win over Chemelil on Tuesday.
Arch rivals AFC Leopards salvaged a last-gasp 2-1 win over resolute bankers KCB in the late Wednesday game at a floodlit Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium to revive their campaign.
Elsewhere, former champions Ulinzi Stars and Tusker FC huffed to a 1-1 draw with the early kick-off between basement sides Nakuru All Stars and Nairobi City Stars returning the same outcome at Nakuru’s Alfraha Stadium.
-Olunga redeems self-
At Nairobi’s City Stadium, Gor who had six starters on Saturday in Stars squad that crashed out of CHAN 2-0 on aggregate to Ethiopia were hellbent to keep their three-peat title charge on course against plucky Thika who arrived on the back of a morale boosting 1-0 win over bitter foes AFC Leopards.
The criticism ringing in the ears of Olunga, who failed to translate his KPL dominance to CHAN and teammate Victor Ali Abondo, particularly served as extra motivation.
It took only four first half minutes in front of his adoring Green Army republic for Olunga to threaten an opener when he hit the ball just wide when put through.
Rwandese import and strike partner, Meddie Kagere then shot off target from compatriot Abuoba Sibomana dangerous cross in the 19th as K’Ogalo laid siege on Thika.
The champions cranked up the pressure after the break with Kagere’s diving header in the 47th just missing the target before Walusimbi calmed the nerves by scoring.
And what a goal it was too, unloading an unstoppable half volley in the 63rd minute that brought the fans to their feet before Olunga sealed the win in the 74th to leave Gor at the summit on 45 points.
At Nyayo, Ingwe came to the match seeking to steady the Den after a rough start to the second leg and looked in danger of further despair when youngster Crispinus Onyago gave the struggling bankers the advantage in the 13th.
Bernard Mangoli hauled the Leopards level with a cracking goal 15 minutes from the break from a Timonah Wanyonyi cross.
Keeper Lucas Indeche, snapped on a free transfer from Sony Sugar kept the giants in the game when he saved an Elly Asieche penalty 20 minutes to the 90 with the man signed from Sofapaka left holding his head in hands.
Patrick Kagogo, Asieche’s former teammate at Sofapaka, decided the encounter with a dramatic added time free-kick to snatch victory from the jaws of a draw for Zradvko Logarusic side.
Ingwe clawed their way up the table to fourth on 28 points to atone for the bitter loss at Thika where their fans went on rampage, forcing police to lob teargas and fire live bullets as mayhem reigned in Thika town.
In Nakuru, the battle of the tail enders failed to give either team an advantage in the quest to avoid the drop with City Stars pressing ahead in the 35th minute through Joseph Sakwa before Bebbeto Lnamba levelled the match for the final score in the 59th.
The big boys of Ulinzi, the 2010 title winners and Tusker who last lifted the crown in 2012 before Gor took over could not be separated either, with the Brewers going a goal down when Jockins Atudo put through his own net in the second minute.
Fellow defender, Lloyd Wahome ensured the share of the spoils when he notched the equaliser in the 74th.
Farid Mohammed strike in the 57th clinched maximum points for seasiders Bandari who edged Ushuru FC in Mombasa.