NAIROBI, Kenya, March 29 – A first half header by defender Jackson Saleh sealed a narrow 1-0 win for AFC Leopards against Top Fry to give beleaguered head coach, James Nandwa, breathing space in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) on Saturday at Mumias Sports Complex.
Saleh netted in the 10th minute after receiving a cross from Bernard Mang’oli to hand Ingwe their second victory of the season after going five matches without winning.
In Muhoroni log leaders Tusker FC were forced to a second 1-1 stalemate in succession by hosts Muhoroni Youth where goal poacher Jesse Were opened the scoring before Enos Ochien’g restored parity in a pulsating match.
Tusker who held champions Gor to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday where they had two players sent off finished the game with ten men when Khalid Aucho received his marching orders for two yellow cards as indiscipline mounts for Francis Kimanzi’s side.
Elsewhere, Nairobi City Stars stunned Sofapaka 2-1 in their Machakos Municipal Stadium backyard as KCB’s woes piled when they were blanked 3-0 by visiting Western Stima while Chemelil Sugar were held to a bareen draw by new boys KRA.
In Mumias, Nandwa, the Harambee Stars assistant coach was under pressure to conjure up a win to ease calls from Ingwe faithful he should be sacked and despite missing four key players, keeper Wycliffe Kasaya, captain Martin Imbalambala, left back Abdalla Juma, forwards Allan Wanga and Noah Wafula, Leopards averted further misery against the team that stunned champions Gor 2-0 last weekend.
It took 10 minutes for the hosts to break the deadlock after good combination between Mang’oli who brought in a cross from the right flank that landed on Saleh’s head to apply the finish for his first goal of the season.
Mang’oli could have doubled after six minutes later but his 18 yard strike went directly to keeper Ronny Kagunzi.
The visitors came close in the 25th when Erastus Mwaniki saw his shot rescued by Ingwe custodian Martin Musalia before the home team wasted two corners as Top Fry trailed 1-0 to half-time.
Both teams used all their substitutes in the last half with Leopards strengthening the midfield by bringing on Ezekiel Seda, Charles Okwemba and Augustine Etemesi for Mike Khamati, Mang’oli and Oscar Kadenge while the visitors introduced Anthony Ng’ang’a, Joses Kizito and Wilson Andati for Teddy Siwa, Dennis Sikhai and Titus Achesa.
None of the substitutes made impact as both sides wasted numerous chances with Ingwe managing to scoop three points and see them propel to the top eight of the log with 10 points, five behind Tusker.
In other results, Tusker continued with their unbeaten run after holding Muhoroni Youth at their backyard 1-1 to stay at the summit with 15 points, four ahead of Gor who play Bandari on Sunday in Mombasa.
Last season’s KPL top scorer Were opened the scores in the 60th before Ochieng’ pulled back in the 83rd.
Ugandan Cranes midfielder Aucho was sent off in the 56th for a second bookable offence for hacking down Abbas Akinyemi.
The Brewers pushed on for a win with 10 men by effecting double substitution in the dying minutes with Andrew Tololwa coming in for Clifford Alwanga while Ismael Dunga stepped in for Osborne Monday but they could not find the back of the net with three minutes of added time as both side shared the spoils.
In Machakos County, two goals in the opening half were enough for Nairobi City Stars to sink Sofapaka 2-1 at Kenyatta Stadium.
Batoto Ba Mungu wasted a lot of chances with veteran John Baraza failing to convert Enock Agwanda’s cross from the right flank in the 13th in what was seen as a clear opportunity to break the stalemate.
Seven minutes later the host were punished for their defensive mistakes as Dennis Ng’ang’a slotted home through a free header to beat keeper Barnabas Tiema for the opener.
In the 27th George Abege doubled for the Kawangware based side after heading home Kevin Ochieng’s header.
The 2009 champions scored their consolation through Anthony Ndolo with seven minutes to full-time tapping in Eugene Asike’s cross.
In other Sunday matches Sony Sugar host Mathare United at Awendo’s Green Stadium while new Ulinzi stars coach Robert Matano will be up against Thika United at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium.