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Homeboyz hold Ulinzi as first leg concludes

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Kakamega Homeboyz skipper Sunday Mutuku vies for the ball against Ulinzi Stars' Kevin Amwayi.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Kakamega Homeboyz skipper Sunday Mutuku vies for the ball against Ulinzi Stars’ Kevin Amwayi.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAKURU, Kenya, May 26- Andrew Murunga and substitute Dennis Okoth were the game-changers as visitors Kakamega Homeboyz rallied to hold Ulinzi Stars 1-1 at the Afraha Stadium as the first leg of the 2016 SportPesa Premier League concluded on Thursday.

Ulinzi top scorer John Mark Makwatta had scored the opener in the first half, but Homeboyz comeback to dominate the second half with substitute Okoth hitting the back of the net.

Makwatta struck his 10th goal of the season ironically in the 10th minute of the game after stretching to toe poke the ball past keeper Mike Wanyika after Enosh Ochieng had sent him through.

It was a nerve calming goal for the military side whose home record has not been pleasant, but coming at the backdrop of a 3-0 win against City Stars last weekend, the confidence was yards up.

John Nairuka attempted an effort from distance but it was wild with his team mates screaming in agony as they were in better positions to cause danger.

Homeboyz were threatening mostly on cross balls which the Ulinzi defense struggled to take care of, lacking the usually air-born affluent Geoffrey Kokoyo who could only manage a place on the bench after recovering from injury.

Athman Buki floated in a dangerous freekick from the right in the 18th minute but Ali Bai’s connection on the half volley went straight to Ulinzi custodian James Saruni who was well placed to collect.

On the other end, Omar Mbongi’s dipping header from a Nairuka corner went inches high as Ulinzi sought to take the game a yard further.

Two minutes later, right back Brian Birgen showed some skill on one of his marauding runs upfront but no one was in the box to tap in a neat cross that rolled across the face of goal.

In the second half, Homeboyz stepped up and it was Okoth and Murunga who were the chief architects of the resurgence.

Just three minutes after the restart, Murunga won the ball in midfield, sent Moses Mudavadi through but the latter’s attempt was too weak to bother Saruni.

Okoth dispossessed Ben Sande at the edge of the box, powered through to the left but Saruni pulled off a one hand save to re-direct the ball off target for a corner.

The persistence bore fruit in the 61st minute when Murunga beat Sande for the ball on the right and floating in a cross.

Saruni and his defender Birgen collided as they went for the ball, gifting Okoth with a simple task of tapping the ball in for the equalizer.

Mathare United midfielder Eric Johana (left) closing on a Posta Rangers player.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

Mathare United midfielder Eric Johana (left) closing on a Posta Rangers player.PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu.

With Gor Mahia having been docked points, Ulinzi had a perfect chance to finish the first leg on top of the table, but the draw now sees them jump only a place to sixth on 27 points with Tusker occupying the top spot on 29.

Mathare United dropped third having settling for a barren draw with Posta Rangers at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.

In Mombasa, Eugene Mukangula equalized for Thika United as they played to a 1-1 draw with Bandari FC while in Muhoroni, SportPesa Premier League top scorer Wycliffe Ochomo added one more goal to take his tally to 11 as the hosts beat Chemelil Sugar 1-0.

In Awendo, Sony Sugar kept their impressive form under head coach Salim babu, compounding more relegation pressure on City Stars with a 2-0 result.

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