NAIROBI, Kenya, October 18 – Stephen Waruru netted a hat-trick to enhance Ulinzi Stars’ chances of finishing amongst the top three in a 3-0 demolition of visiting Western Stima in a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) clash at Nakuru’s Afraha Stadium Saturday.
The victory saw the Soldiers register their fourth win in a row to sit fourth on 44 and pile pressure on former champions Tusker FC who are ahead of them by a point before they host Muhoroni Youth Sunday at Kasarani Stadium.
In Mombasa, relegation bound Nakuru All Stars held hosts Bandari to a barren draw, a result that saw the newcomers’ chances of surviving in the league hanging by a thread.
Waruru who took his goal tally to 11 and three behind leader Dan Sserunkuma of Gor Mahia, was credited all the three goals after Western Stima defender George Wesa scored an own goal from Waruru’s strike in the 18th minute for the opener.
The goal was as a result of Western Stima keeper Gabriel Adika’s mistake after he came off his line to concede a free-kick at the left for Oliver Rutto to quickly take the set-piece that found Waruru in the box whose header saw Wesa turn to his own empty net.
Despite the visitors showing fighting spirit in the first-half through Collins Neto, Ulinzi keeper James Saruni was forced to make crucial saves as he denied the forward’s thunderbolt for the equaliser.
With Ulinzi head coach Robert Matano making three changes from the squad that beat Chemelil Sugar 2-1, bringing on Kevin Amwayi who returned from injury, they piled pressure on Western Stima’s defence.
The midfielder did not disappoint as he capitalized on the visitors foul at the edge of the box to curl in a cross that Waruru smashed home at the left corner of the post to double the lead in the 32nd.
Wesa attempted to make up on his own goal five minutes later but it all remained to be a dream as his shot went wide with Rutto responding on the other end, only to be denied by Adika as the first period ended.
Matano introduced former Thika United forward John Nairuka for Job Muhati in the second-half, before Stima pulling off Kevin Okoth for winger and former Gor Mahia man John Kiplangat.
Stima showed intent to reduce the deficit when captain Fredrick Shimonyo found space to shoot but defender Mohammed Hassan did well to block the threat before Saruni was called for action once again this time rescuing substitute Fredrick Nyarombo’s one-on-one effort.
Four minutes later Saruni had to parry Francis Ocholla’s cracker for a fruitless corner and keep his side in the game and enable Waruru seal the win when he connected substitute John Makwata’s header at the roof of the net in the 83rd.