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Plucky Thika apply brakes on Gor

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THIKA-UNITEDNAIROBI, Kenya, March 19- Talisman Dan Sserunkuma missed a penalty as Thika ended champions Gor Mahia’s perfect start to the season by forcing them to barren draw in a mid-week Kenyan Premier League (KPL) at Nairobi’s City Stadium on Wednesday.

K’Ogalo went into the game on the back of three straight wins but came unstuck against the plucky visitors for a share of the spoils in front of a partisan crowd.

Coach Bobby Williamson started with vice-captain Solomon Nasio in place of Kevin Oluoch who suffered a knock against Stima while Thika coach, John Kamau made three changes introducing Michael Luvutsi, Jackson Machari and Moses Arita who paved way for Vincent Nyaberi, Joseph Kuria and John Nairuka.

K’Ogalo
started the match attacking with Kevin Omondi and Patrick Oboya exchanging neat passes as the latter provided a pass to Godfrey Walusimbi who crossed in from the left flank but unfortunately no one was in the Thika box to tap home as defender Kuria cleared the danger.

The defending champions kept the hosts back four on alert with Walusimbi delivering another cross with his left foot that forced Simon Mbugua to clear the ball with only 10 minutes of play.

Coach Kamau’s adjustments seemed to have worked with his charges coming close in the 16th when Nauiruka had a good move from the right wing to cross in but Gor second choice keeper David Juma, denied him.

Two minutes later Nyaberi gifted K’Ogalo first corner after clearing Anthony Akumu’s strike but Walusimbi wasted the chance.

Gor continued to pile pressure in search of the opener with Thika conceding a fourth corner that saw their defenders clear Walusimbi’s kick in 27th as goal poacher Sserunkuma was booked for diving in the box.

David Kin’gatua had a chance to break the deadlock in the 32nd after Nairuka delivered a low corner but the Harambee Stars forward blazed wide.

K’Ogalo’s
hunger for goals continued with Oboya finding Shaban Kenga inside the box but the on-loan Bandari winger blasted wide.

With four minutes to the breather, Thika settled in the game with a composed defence but the champions burst to life with Ugandan Hamza Muwonge denying countryman Sserunkuma his fourth goal this season after the Cranes forward received a fine pass from Oboya.

Muwonge was at it again when he punched Omondi’s cross from the right flank to see both sides head into the break tied goalless.

Kamau brought in Moses Arita for King’atua in the last half but before he settled, Vincent Omumbo handled the ball inside the box for K’Ogalo to win the penalty but Sserunkuma failed to convert as Muwonge stopped his spot-kick in the 49th to keep the scores level.

The Brookside sponsored side responded swiftly with new boy Michael Olunga coming in close with a fine shot outside the box but hit the crossbar.

In the 58th Omondi received a neat pass from Sserunkuma but his effort were cleared by Thika skipper Dennis Odhiambo cleared the danger for a fruitless corner.

Substitute Timona Wanyonyi floated in a corner to stand-in captain David Owino who headed wide.

In the 74th Wycliffe Opondo found Luvutsi with a good pass but the latter shoots wide from outside the box.

Oboya and Serunkuma’s efforts in the dying minutes could not salvage Williamson to continue with the clean sheet as both sides shared one point.

Gor who have a game at hand against Tusker are third on the log and faces bottom placed Top Fry Nakuru over the weekend while Thika jumps one place up to sixth with eight.

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