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Gor ‘top-fried’, Leopards held

SSERUNKUMA-SONYNAIROBI, Kenya, March 22- Champions Gor Mahia were stunned by basement side Top Fry 2-0 in Nakuru as fellow giants AFC Leopards reverted to type by being held to a barren draw by bogey side Chemelil in Nairobi in Saturday’s Kenyan Premier League action.

In the day’s other match, 2011/12 champions, Tusker FC ascended to the top of the log by bottling Ulinzi Stars 2-1.

The biggest story of the day came at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru when John Ndirangu scored a brace as bottom placed Top Fry AllStars registered their first ever win in KPL in a game where the champions lost their keeper, David Juma, in the first minute before Harambee Stars defender, David ‘Calabar’ Owino was also stretchered off as K’Ogalo failed to hit the heights that had seen them register three wins and a draw in their title defense before Saturday.

For Top Fry, it was the most resounding way to announce their belated arrival to the top flight having lost their five games on the bounce.

Ndirangu drew first blood in the 47th after capitalising on a rear guard mix-up to tap in beyond returning captain Jerry Onyango before he sealed the points with his second in the 61st with a well taken strike.

In the first match of a televised double header, Tusker assumed the leadership of the nascent season on 13 points after goals from Clifford Alwanga who netted from the spot in the 19th before Khalid Aucho secured victory with a 73rd minute conversion from the edge of the area.

Ulinzi, who were led out by former Harambee Stars keeper, Francis Onyiso, after his predecessor, Salim Ali, threw in the towel on Thursday as head coach, levelled matters at 1-1 with a well worked goal on the stroke of half time from Stephen Waruru but it was not to stop them from slumping to their first defeat after five successive draws in 2014.

In the later match, Leopards fell further off the pace when they were neutered by Chemelil to pile more pressure on their head coach, James Nandwa, after Ingwe failed to follow up on their midweek 1-0 win against fellow sugar manufacturers Sony Sugar.

Despite fans chanting ‘Nandwa must go’, the beleaguered Ingwe coach was upbeat his side will pick up in their next match, urging fans to be patient.

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“We created many chances and it’s only that lady luck was not on our side. Our midfield was not at the best and that’s why I introduced Charles Okwemba before the first half ended and I can say that he changed the game.

“It’s normal in football so if the fans want me to leave, i will if the management says so. For now I’m focusing on our next match against Top Fry next weekend and we will be going back to the drawing board to make my forwards score,” the Harambee Stars tactician stated after the match.

Chemelil coach Mike Mururi, who saw his side drop to second on the log, was happy to collect a single point away.

“The match was good since the boys played tactically well but only lacked the finishing power which I will work on when I return home as we prepare to host KRA. I was not under pressure to win this match that’s why I’m satisfied with the one point.”

The visitors were the first to threaten with three minutes after kick-off but Willis Ouma directed his low taken free-kick straight to Martin Musalia’s arms.

Hamisi Mwinyi, followed in closely with a long range shot but Musalia dealt with it skilfully to give time Ingwe to settle in the high paced game.

Leopards’ chance came in the 13th when Jacob Keli beat defender Jackson Sale at the left flank but he failed to bring the cross in the box as Chemelil defenders cleared the danger.

Two minutes later, Daniel Mutahi could have opened the scores after beating Leopards back four to be hacked down outside the box for a free-kick that he wasted.

Keli was at it once again from the left wing this time round bringing in a cross that Samuel Ouma headed for a fruitless corner.

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In the 20th, Matasi stepped up to save Leopards after punching Mutahi’s cracker for a corner that they wasted.

With pressure piling on the host, Bernard Mang’oli tried to break the deadlock in the 27th but he blasted wide for Smith Ouko to pick the pall for counter attack, but his strike went over the cross bar.

Nandwa introduced Okwemba for Hassan Muhammad, who changed the game with Titus Wamalwa, bringing in a cross from the right to find stand-in captain Allan Wanga who was denied by the cross bar in the 38th.

Two minutes to the breather, Georson Likono failed to lift his side despite beating defender Edwin Wafula, in the box but lacked the finishing power as both sides shared the spoils to half-time.

Leopards started the last half on a brighter note with Wanga attempting in the 48th but he looped over Mang’oli’s corner.

Mang’oli blasted wide after controlling Musa Mudde’s pass in what was seen as a clear chance for him net in the 66th.

Keli thought he had scored after receiving a pass from Wanga in the 75th, only for referee to rule his goal off-side.

Matasi was forced to pull a great save four minutes latter to deny Likono’s free-kick 20 yards from the box with Keli heading wide Mang’oli’s cross far wide in the 81st.

Hilary Echesa saw his strike blocked in the dying minutes by Leopards defender for a fruitless corner with Augustine Etemesi coming in for Were, but time was not on their side as both teams shared one point each after a barren draw.

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In other results, defending champions Gor Mahia, suffered a shock when they were fried 2-0 by Top Fry All Stars at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium.

John Ndirangu notched a brace in the 47th and 63th minutes to sink the hopes of the champion’s clean sheet this season.

Back at Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium, Tusker Fc beat former champions Ulinzi Stars 2-1, with Clifford Alwanga and Ugandan Khalid Aucho netting for the Brewers while Stephen Waruru scored the consolation for the military side that was led by their new coach former Kenyan number one Francis Onyiso.

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