NAIROBI, Kenya, April 12- AFC Leopards defender Jackson Saleh scored a late header to salvage a point against visiting Nairobi City Stars in a battling 1-1 draw at Mumias Sports Complex in one of four Kenyan Premier League (KPL) matches played Saturday.
After sacking their head coach James Nandwa on Thursday, former keeper Washington Muhanji took charge on the interim but he could not lead the flailing giants to collect maximum points and bounce back from going down 1-0 to debutants KRA in mid-week.
Playing at Mumias for the second time this season, Ingwe were forced to come from a goal down to level in the 80th minute after Dennis Okoth handed City Stars the opener in the 52nd.
With Muhanji starting with Harambee Stars speedy winger Paul Were and midfielder Charles Okwemba on the bench, the visitor’s forwards had a chance to terrorizs Ingwe’s defence with former striker Jimmy Bagaye threatening with a shot in the 14th but his effort was easily picked by keeper Martin Musalia.
Ezekiel Seda could have opened the scoring for the hosts in the 33rd when Jacob Keli put him through with one defender to beat but his shot was deflected for a fruitless corner.
City Stars had a chance to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time when Bagaye was hacked down by Edwin Wafula, but the resultant free kick was blasted wide as the sides went in for the breather at 0-0.
Muhanji did double substitution in the second half introducing Were for Khalid Jumaan, and Okwemba for Seda, but that did not stop City Stars from attacking with George Abege coming close when he went one on one with Musalia who thwarted him in the 49th.
The visitors then went ahead 13 minutes later with Okoth, breaking Ingwe hearts when he tapped in a Moses Odhiambo pass.
With City Stars intent on holding on to the advantage, Leopards chased and got the equaliser with ten to go when Saleh headed in from a corner from Were for his second goal of the season to rescue the point.
In other results, Chemelil Sugar maintained their unbeaten run when they fought to a goalless draw with visiting Mathare United at Chemelil Sports Complex.
The slum boys threatened first on the half hour mark with Noah Abich unleashing a powerful shot that forced keeper Jairus Adira, to repel back to the field of play.
Substitute Tony Nyangor, wasted two chances that could have sealed the win when he found space from the lose ball with just keeper to beat but he fumbled and allowed defenders to clear the danger.
The forward was at it again when Innocent Wafula, brought in a cross that beat Mathare defence but once again Nyangor headed wide as both sides shared the spoils.
In the battle for the new boys, ten-man KRA humbled Top Fry Nakuru by a solitary goal at Nairobi’s City Stadium in one of the televised double header.
Substitute Joseph Emeka netted the winning goal in the 63rd, heading home Douglas Okumu’s pass with Top Fry captain Anthony Ng’ang’a spurning a great opportunity to equalise when he blazed a Peter Nganga through pass wide with the goal at his mercy.
It almost got better for the taxmen a minute later when Geoffrey Omusula, beat three defenders and keeper Ronny Kagunzi, only for him to hold on the ball too long for defender Bernard Odhiambo to clear the danger.
KRA were later reduced to ten men when Kevin Ochieng fouled Peter Kihungi to pick a second yellow card to mar what was a good afternoon’s work.
“I’m happy I have won the game even if we did not play well. The team is responding well but we were exhausted after playing AFC match so we only had two days to recover and that’s why my players did not play well the way they are supposed to,” KRA head coach, Ken Kenyatta said after notching his second win on the spin.
“We played well but we did not utilize our chances so we will go back to the drawing board and work on that. We have improved since we are not losing by big margin as we used to when we started the league. If we don’t score we will make sure we don’t concede,” Peter Okidi, the stand in Top Fry coach stated as the side slumped to their seventh defeat of the campaign to instal them as early candidates for a swift return to Division One.
Also in deep trouble are KCB, who exceeded expectations last season to finish fourth as they remained stuck in the bottom following a 2-1 reverse to visiting Bandari who notched their third win of 2014 to steer clear of the relegation zone after a bad start to the campaign.
Kasim Mohammed, broke the deadlock from the spot after Sosthenes Idah handled the ball in the box before Kepha Aswani doubled the lead three minutes later from Ibrahim Kitawi’s cross.
Peter Wainaina, pulled one in the 21st through a long range shot after Omar Islam’s poor clearance but the Dockers held on for victory.
“We are going home with three points. We expected to perform well since we were physically and tactically fit although we missed Ali Bai, on the right flank but we had to give the chance to other players like Victor Ndinya, who has proved himself he is worth the position,” Bandari coach, Twahir Muhiddin said after his team camp in Nakuru for four days to prepare for the tie.
The league continues on Sunday with champions Gor Mahia in a tricky test away to Ulinzi Stars at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru while table toppers Tusker FC will be in Machakos’ Kenyatta Stadium to face Sofapaka.
Muhoroni Youth will welcome Western Stima while Sony Sugar will wrap up the day’s fixture when they host Thika United at Awendo’s Green Stadium.