NAIROBI, Kenya, September 18 – Champions Gor Mahia reclaimed the Kenya Premier League top spot despite being held to a barren draw by 10 man Ulinzi Stars in a nervous encounter played at Nairobi’s City Stadium on Wednesday.
K’Ogalo who were seeking maximum points to open a three point gap, failed to hit the target to pick their third successive draw and lead the standings on 44 points, one ahead of Sofapaka as Tusker and Chemelil Sugar follow on 41 points each.
The highly tensed match turned dramatic in the second-half when center referee Amos Ichingwa sent off skipper Stephen Ocholla for a second bookable offense which did not go well with the military side.
Ocholla received the second yellow card for kicking the ball after Ichingwa had ruled him offside only three minutes after picking the first for a hard tackle on Cameroonian Simeone Pierre.
This led the match to be stopped for five minutes with Ulinzi players protesting for the call and it had to take the intervention of head coach Robert Matano to calm his charges and escort the weeping Ocholla out of the field.
The visitors who were seeking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat against KCB showed intent after six minutes of play when Kevin Amwayi raced from the left to swing in a cross that beat keeper Jerim Onyago but Evans Amwoka failed to tap home in front of goal as Harun Shakava cleared the danger.
The Soldiers could have opened the scoring in the 14th through Stephen Waruru but Onyango was in good position to deny him minutes after Ichingwa ignored his penalty plea.
Gor piled pressure in the 23rd with Dan Sserunkuma chasing Musa Mohammed’s long ball but defender Cylus Shitote did well to rescue the Military side, heading the ball to his keeper James Saruni who dived to cool down the pressure.
The best chance for the champions came in the 35th when Dan Onyango set Timothy Otieno with a through pass for a one on one with Saruni but the youngster failed to net his third goal of the season as the keeper cleared.
Both sides entered the last period energized but it was Ulinzi who attempted first in the 55th after Ocholla interchanged passes with Oliver Rutto but Onyango raised to the occasion to save the latter’s effort.
On the other end substitute Patrick Oboya could send the Green Army into frenzy when Otieno found him, only to see his left foot shot stopped by Saruni.
After Ulinzi were reduced to 10 men, they opted to sit back but it was Amwoka who could have given the visitors a win in the dying minutes when he landed an open chance but he was too slow for Kevin Oluoch to intercept in what was the final touch of the game.