NAIROBI, Kenya, September 14 – Substitute Andrew Tololwa struck late for Tusker FC to deny new Gor Mahia head coach Frank Nuttall a dream Kenyan Premier League (KPL) debut as the table toppers shared the spoils in a 1-1 stalemate in a pulsating encounter played at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium on Sunday.
Goal poacher Dan Sserunkuma put Gor ahead in the 59th minute from the spot to notch his tenth of the season before Tololwa restored parity in the six from full time after tapping home the rebound from keeper Jerim Onyango.
In another encounter at Machakos’ Kenyatta Stadium, Robinson Mwangi notched a brace to help 10-man Mathare United beat KRA 2-0 and leapfrog Ulinzi Stars to seventh on the log on 32 points.
Elsewhere, substitute Crispine Odula scored a last gasp goal to see Bandari salvage a point against hosts Sony Sugar in a match that ended to a 1-1 draw at Awendo’s Green Stadium.
The Tusker versus Gor match had a lot at stake with both sides aiming to take the initiative in the title run in by moving to the top of the log but after the draw, it is Sofapaka who will start the week at the summit on 43 points ahead of Gor on goal difference with Tusker two adrift in third.
Kevin Oluoch swapped places with Ugandan Godfrey Walusimbi in Nuttal’s notable change in the playing formation in his first KPL game after succeeding Scottish compatriot, Bobby Williamson.
Walusimbi who was deployed in a more attacking role partnered well with countryman Sserunkuma who failed to hit the target twice after being denied by keeper Samuel Odhiambo and defender Jockins Atudo in the opening exchanges.
The Brewers got their best chance through Jesse Were who was put through by Ismail Dunga for a one on one with Onyango but the Harambee Stars forward was too slow to react allowing defender Harun Shakava to clear the danger.
Were was at it again this time with a long range shot in the 25th but Onyango was well position to save the champions as both sides headed to the break goalless.
Tusker head coach Francis Kimanzi fortified his midfield by introducing Khalid Aucho for Dunga in the 56th minute but soon saw his side fall behind when centre referee Sylvester Kirwa adjudged Atudo had pushed Sserunkuma in the box and awarded Gor a penalty that the Cranes forward stepped up to convert for the opener.
K’Ogalo could have doubled the lead after Walusimbi picked Otieno but the former Talanta FC striker failed to find the back of the net while on the other end Onyango rescued Aucho’s effort.
Kimanzi did double a substitution, pulling out Robert Omunuk and Athman Buki for Clifford Alwanga and Tololwa while the Dutchman introduced George ‘Black Berry’ Odhiambo for goal scorer Sserunkuma in a switch that did not down well with Gor fans.
Without their main threat Gor waned and invited Tusker to go for it and on the 84th minute, they drew level when Kevin Kimani floated a cross that Alwanga headed goal wards to force Onyango to repel but Tololwa made no mistake to smash the ball home on the rebound for the equaliser.
The dying minutes could have seen Tusker collect maximum points after Osumba unleashed a cracker but Onyango parried before Were set Tololwa who fired a thunderbolt only to be denied by the wood work as both sides held on for the draw.
Gor have a chance of moving back to the top when they face Ulinzi Stars on Wednesday for their game in hand over their top three rivals.