NAIROBI. Kenya, September 21 – Sensational forward Dan Sserunkuma struck twice to hand Gor Mahia head coach Frank Nuttall his first K’Ogalo victory after easing past visiting Chemelil Sugar 2-0 in a top of the table Kenyan Premier League clash played at Nairobi City Stadium on Saturday.
Elsewhere in Mumias, archrivals AFC Leopards were held to a 2-2 draw by relegation-threatened KCB after coming from 2-0 down to salvage the point while Western Stima shared the spoils with hosts Bandari in Mombasa after the encounter ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
After drawing three successive matches, K’Ogalo returned to their winning ways after collecting maximum points against the Sugar Millers whom they beat 1-0 in the first-leg to stretch their lead to 47 points, four ahead of Sofapaka and in the process, navigating past one of their trickiest games in the run in against the club that started the game only two points adrift.
Talismanic Sserunkuma netted on either side of half time, his first arriving on 45 minutes before sealing his brace in the 55th to decide the match.
“I’m delighted for the players because they put a great effort to give us maximum points.
“We created a lot of chances in the first-half and scored the goal but we improved in the last half. We will approach each match as it comes and do our best to see we achieve our target of retaining the title,” Nuttall said in a post match interview.
On the other hand Chemelil coach Mururi conceded defeat but said they were still title contenders despite the five point deficit to the champions who briefly surrendered KPL leadership last weekend to Sofapaka before a midweek draw against Ulinzi Stars and their Saturday triumph saw them reclaim top spot.
“My boys played very well in the first-half, we got our chances but we did not utilize them but Gor got theirs and converted. Lapse in the defence saw us concede the two goals so I lost fairly but we are still in the race because the difference is not huge.”
Chemelil contained the hosts in the first-half and created numerous chances but lady luck was not on their side as Harambee Stars keeper Jerim Onyango was in inspired form pulling off a brilliant save from Hillary Echesa’s bullet free-kick in their first attempt in the 28th .
Five minutes later Chemelil were at it again, building from the midfield with Smith Ouko setting up Hamisi Mwinyi with a through ball but Onyango did well to narrow the angle and rescue K’Ogalo.
With the encounter destined to head to the breather goalless, Chemelil defenders lost concentration to leave Sserunkuma to head a Musa Mohammed cross beyond keeper Jairus Adira for the opener on the stroke of half-time.
Gor upped their game in the second-half with George ‘Black Berry’ Odhiambo, who showed glimpses of the form that made him Player of the Year in 2010, racing from the right to find Sserunkuma who broke through the defence, only for Adira to stretch and clear the danger as Mururi brought in Innocent Wafula for Georson Likono.
Adira could not hold on the Uganda Cranes striker’s finish ten minutes after the restart when Odhiambo adroitly put Sserunkuma through for a one-on-one with the keeper that was dispatched expertly to the far post for his 11th goal of the season that put him in command of the Golden Boot race.
Chemelil could not sustain the pressure with K’Ogalo almost getting a third after Godfrey Walusimbi fed the resurgent Odhiambo who beat his defender but squandered the chance moments before Eric Ochieng wasted his but that did not matter since they managed to hold on for the win.
Having endured a torrid time in his second coming at Gor, ‘Black Berry’ got the adulation that saw the K’Ogalo faithful chant songs in his praise in his glorious 2010 season when he almost led K’Ogalo to the title.
Leopards continue poor run
At the Mumias Sports Complex, substitute Austin Ikkena scored the equaliser five minutes from time to help Ingwe pick a point against the Bankers.
KCB took the lead in the 9th through Ugandan Ronald Musana after a cross from Benjamin Chaka dodged the Leopards defence to find him.
Raymond Murugi doubled the lead six minutes later after capitalizing on poor communication between defenders Jackson Saleh and James Situma to find space and slot home.
At the stroke of half-time, Noah Wafula scored his fourth goal of the season to pull one back.
Ingwe were awarded a penalty after KCB defender handled the ball in the box with Bernard Mang’oli stepping up to take it only for keeper Zachary Onyango to stop his kick.
Wafula turned provider to the Ikkena with only five minutes to the final whistle and the Nigerian import did not disappoint after he raised high to head past Onyango.
The result saw Leopards stretch their winless run to four consecutive matches and remain 12th on 29 points while KCB are sitting 14th on 23 points, three above City Stars who are on the drop zone.
Blunt Tusker drop points
On Friday, 2011-12 champions, Tusker FC who were tipped by many to reel in stuttering Gor at the summit saw their chance go up in smoke after they were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened City Stars at Ruaraka Grounds.
The stakes were high for both sides with Tusker chasing their 11th title while City Stars are battling to preserve their top flight status with games running out.
The Kawangware based side had Substitute Ray Omondi to thank for keeping hope alive after he struck a late equaliser in the 81st after the Brewers went ahead in the 26th through Ugandan Khalid Aucho.
Tusker assistant coach Leonard Odipo, pointed out lack of concentration from his defenders cost them the win.
“We knew it was going to be tough because they are fighting for their dear lives. Our main undoing was when we slowed down the tempo and they caught us on the break.
“We pulled out Jesse Were because he was not holding the ball enough but nevertheless he played his best and we hoped Clifford Alwanga would change things but it was just a bad day in the office,” stated Odipo in a post match interview.
His opposite number Robinson Ndumbuisi, congratulated his charges for salvaging the point, saying it will give them confidence in their remaining matches to fight for survival in the league.
“We deserved to win because we missed three open chances but I’m happy with the boys because they gave their best and it paid in the second half.
“A point is better than nothing and we don’t take it for granted. This will make the boys believe they can still do it,” the Nigerian said.