NAIROBI, Kenya, October 25 – Debutants Nakuru All Stars became the first team to be relegated to the Super League after succumbing 2-0 to Western Stima in a Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match played at Kisumu’s Moi Stadium on Saturday.
Elsewhere, at the Thika Sub-County Stadium, a last gasp goal by midfielder Kevin Amwayi livened Ulinzi Stars’ hopes of finishing third after humbling hosts Thika United 1-0.
Ali Bai and former Gor Mahia forward John Kiplagat were on target in the first-half for Western Stima to ensure All Stars earned a swift return to the second tier to cap a nightmare season after earning promotion to the KPL.
Western Stima opened the scoring in the seventh minute after All Stars failed to clear Kiplagat’s corner for Bai to slot home, before the latter netted his own in the 41stt.
With the win, Western Stima displaced Leopards in eighth place on 36 points while All Stars remain rooted at the basement on 17.
-Ulinzi march on-
In Thika, after having a good first-half, the Soldiers had to wait until the 83rd minute to grasp their fifth successive win after Amwayi broke through from a counter attack to smash a Geoffrey Kokoyo long ball past keeper Hamzah Muwongo at the far right corner.
Ulinzi could have gotten their opener at the stroke of half-time when referee Moses Osano awarded them a penalty after Jackson Macharia had a hard tackle on Mark Makwata in the box, only for keeper James Saruni to pass the ball to his opposite number Muwonge instead of going for his third goal of the season.
The win saw fourth placed Ulinzi on 47 points, open a three point gap from Chemelil Sugar who welcomes AFC Leopards Sunday in Kisumu.
With Ulinzi’s goal poacher Stephen Waruru missing the encounter after accumulating five yellow cards, John Nairuka failed to step in the former Harambee Stars forward’s shoes who has 11 goals in his bag.
Nairuka pounced on several open chances but he failed to punish his former side with the first attempt coming in the third minute but easily gave it to Muwonge with his weak strike before seeing his free header go wide in the 33rd minute.
Ulinzi mounted pressure on Thika’s defence with Simon Mbugua’s poor clearance finding Makwata at the edge of the box but the former Nairobi City Stars attacking midfielder blasted.
The hosts’ first chance arrived in the 35th through Michael Olunga who beat Kokoyo from the right to swing in a cross that found unmarked David King’atua who failed to hit the target with his free header.
Sammy Meja could have send Thika ahead six minutes later when Macharia did well to weave past two defenders to feed him only for the defender to waste the chance, moments before Olunga had missed his after heading wide from a set-piece.
Thika were forced for the first substitution when they entered for the last period after Meja picked a knock to be stretched out for Vincent Nyaberi to replace him but that did not stop the John Kamau charges to pin their visitors on their edge.
A good build up by Wycliffe Opondo from the midfield almost paid off when Olunga picked the pass to set substitute Allan Owiyo but Saruni was quick to come off his line to clear the danger in the 53rd.
Ten minutes later Saruni could have been punished for his mistake when he parried Owiyo’s shot from the left if Michael Luvitsi’s connected home the rebound.
On the other end Muwonge denied Amwayi’s thunderbolt, punching for a fruitless corner in the 76th but the Ugandan keeper could not stop the latter’s strike seven minutes later.
The loss saw Thika United remain sixth on 37 points but could be leapfrogged by Sony Sugar or Leopards if they win their matches Sunday.