NAKURU, April 4- Ulinzi Stars retained their status as the only unbeaten side in the opening seven rounds of the SportPesa Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Muhoroni Youth at a soggy Afraha Stadium pitch on Monday.
Goals in either half from John Mark Makwatta and Kevin Amwayi saw Ulinzi pick up their first win at home this season in their fourth time of asking.
Muhoroni Youth Left back Yussuf Mohammed headed home the consolation in the third minute of added time to see a nervous end to the match, but Ulinzi head coach Robert Matano’s charges managed to defend well in the final minutes to move to fourth on 13 points just one above leaders Tusker FC, Mathare United and AFC Leopards, who are on 14 points apiece.
“It wasn’t really a goal we should have conceded because Wamalwa was well placed to clear. But I am happy with the win. We played well and deserved to get the three points,” Matano said after the match.
His opposite number James Omondi stated, “Despite the loss, I am happy with how we played. We have a new team and the young boys put in a very good show. We conceded cheap goals which we should have prevented, but we leave heads high and hope to improve in the coming games,” the youthful tactician said.
Ulinzi missed the services of midfielder Joseph Kuria who twisted his arm in training on Sunday while winger Cliff Kasuti was out with illness.
It was the visitors who started stronger in the opening 20 minutes, passing the ball well around the pitch while Ulinzi struggled to string passes together.
However, their lack of a final product would be punished just 24 minutes into the match with Ulinzi maximizing their first effort on target when Makwatta netted his third goal of the season.
Makwatta scored from a break on the right when Bikokwa slit through a low cross which the defense miscued to find the former City Stars striker, who struck beyond keeper Martin Elungat.
With the heavens opening and the ground becoming extremely slippery, the pace of the game slowed down but Ulinzi’s attack improved.
The military side had two chances late on but Bikokwa shot wide after breaking on the left while Makwatta’s free-kick in the 34th minute was deflected for a fruitless corner.
On the counter in the 36th minute, Muhoroni had a glorious chance to level the scores but their top scorer Wycliffe Ochomo could not get a good foot on the ball, shooting wide after being forced off balance by a back tracking Brian Birgen.
After the break, Ulinzi came back with the same venom with Matano bringing on Churchill Muloma for Erick Apul and Oscar Wamalwa for Bikokwa.
The lanky Wamalwa was a threat to Muhoroni with his height and he kept winning aerial balls but the final result was wanting.
Ulinzi were using the wings in attack and in the 65th minute, they had a brilliant chance on the counter but Muloma’s shot from the edge of the box from a Birgen cut back was blocked.
Ten minutes from time, Ulinzi doubled the lead through the counter attack to see Amwayi hit home from ten yards after being set up by John Nairuka who had beaten an offside trap.
Muhoroni pulled one back in the dying minutes through Mohammed, who did well to nod home from a Moses Arita corner.