NAIROBI, May 24 – Unbeaten champions Gor Mahia restored their nine-point lead at the peak of the Kenyan Premier League after edging out hard-fighting Mohoroni Youth 1-0 at Kisumu’s Moi Stadium on Sunday.
At Nairobi’s Ruaraka Grounds, GOtv Shield champions Sofapaka were 2-1 winners over Tusker FC to pile more misery on head coach Francis Kimanzi whose future is subject to intense speculation after his fourth straight game without victory.
Elsewhere, Ushuru beat KCB 2-1, Nakuru All Stars played to a 2-2 draw with Chemelil Sugar while in Mombasa, Mathare United held hosts Bandari to a barren stalemate.
With only two matches to the conclusion of the first-leg, K’Ogalo are sure of finishing top in mid-season after Michael Olunga’s scored the winner in the 11th minute to take his personal tally to seven, one less than than joint top scorers, team-mates Meddie Kagere and Ali Abondo as well as AFC Leopard’s Jacob Keli.
“It was a tough game and we congratulate Muhoroni for giving a good fight. We could have scored a couple of other chances, Abondo hit the post but everything considered, we played well,” Gor head coach, Frank Nuttall said after the win.
Muhoroni head coach, Francis Baraza cried foul over poor officiating after his fourth match without a win in a match where Uganda’s Geodfrey Walusimbi was lucky to escape with only a yellow card for stamping.
“Referees must improve because Olunga’s goal was a hand ball and also he gave all the advantage to Gor, so I salute my boys for giving a hard fight. I have a young team and we will improve in the second leg after I bring in two or three experienced players,” the former Western Stima coach complained.
Coming from a 5-0 victory demolition of basement side, Nakuru All Stars last weekend, K’Ogalo went on the attack from the onset in front of partisan support with Walusimbi, who returned to the first XI for Ronald Otieno orchestrating raids from midfield.
Olunga threatened after five minutes when he received a Khalid Aucho through pass and out-muscled Muhoroni defender, Wellington Ochieng but his cross goal shot missed the inside of the far post by inches.
The former Tusker FC and Thika United drilled in the ball to the net when Collins Okoth put him through as Muhoroni defenders stood to scream handball to liven up the Green Army who had packed the stadium in their spiritual lakeside city to almost full capacity as rains threatened to pour out with force.
The hosts only threatened once in the first-half through skipper, Abass Akinyemi’s long range strike that hit the side netting in the 22nd.
At the other end, Abondo was denied by the cross bar after Kiptoo deflected his snap shot from the edge of the box soon after for a fruitless corner.
Muhoroni returned from the break in search of the equaliser, with Akinyemi blazing over the bar from an indirect free-kick conceded by Walusimbi at the edge of the box.
A minute later, Jeremiah Wanjala found himself unmarked with only Gor custodian, Boniface Oluoch to beat but he fumbled with the ball for the keeper to easily snuff out the danger.
A good build up by K’Ogalo from the left saw Abondo set up Kagere in the 65th but luck was once again was not on his side as his hurried finished went over.
Abondo was denied by the goal framework for the second time, after connecting Olunga’s cross with his inner foot with Kiptoo beaten all ends up as the ball cannoned off the right side of the bar.
Olunga gave the tiring Muhoroni defence a torrid time in the last 10 minutes forcing Kiptoo to put his body on the line to rescue a close range shot in a tight angle, before appealing for a penalty when he was hacked down but the referee waved on.
Nuttall introduced Innocent Wafula for Kagere in the dying minutes as they held on the lead to extend their unbeaten run to 13 matches.
-Sofapaka climb second-
In Ruaraka, veteran striker John Baraza and Mourice Odipo were on target to see Sofapaka push up to second on 24 points, taking advantage of AFC Leopard’s 2-0 loss to Western Stima on Saturday to take over as Gor’s closest challengers.
Kimanzi’s Brewers dropped to seven with their second successive loss as their stated title-challenge suffered a potentially fatal blow.
After a goalless first-half, Baraza gave the visitors the lead from the spot after James Situma handled Fiston Abdul Razak’s ball in the box but substitute Stephen Owusu restored parity in the 61st from a Kevin Kimani corner.
With the match destined for a stalemate, Odipo restored Sofapaka’s lead in the 83rd to extend Batoto ba Mungu’s impressive run over Tusker since 2011.