NAIROBI, April 16- A contested penalty in the 68th minute gave Tusker FC a slim 1-0 win over champions Gor Mahia in a SportPesa Premier League match played at Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
The game had to be stopped for 15 minutes after a section of K’Ogalo fans in the notorious ‘Russia’ stands threw projectiles into the pitch protesting the penalty awarded to the Brewers.
However, match was continued after the club’s stewards and captain Musa Mohammed calmed down the fans to see Tusker hold onto the slim lead to remain top of the standings on 20 points after eight rounds.
Tusker were awarded the penalty after the second assistant referee George Mwangi waved his flag for a handball inside the box from a Shafik Batambuze freekick.
The decision astounded everyone including Tusker players who had already started back-peddling towards their goal as they knew the freekick was against them.
But the second assistant raced to the edge of the 18-yard box, signifying it was a penalty.
Despite being quelled for the game to see its sunset, the boiling trouble would wait till the final minute to erupt with one fan storming into the pitch to attack the second assistant referee under the watch of stewards and security officers.
Fans threw stones into the pitch targeting the match officials and police were forced to lob tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd who were baying for the referee’s blood.
The four match officials had to be walked out of the pitch under heavy police escort but it wouldn’t prevent a few daring ones from attempting to get their hands on the officials.
On paper, it was a game that was protracted to be highly contested, but on the pitch, it turned out to be a lull affair witrh both sides approaching the game with their handbrakes on.
Gor winger Ronald Omino had the earliest chance of the game through a sixth minute diving header inside the box that was acrobatically tipped over by Tusker keeper David Okello.
On the other end, Antony Ndolo’s flick from a Batambuze corner came off the underside of the bar with Ghanaian forward Stephen Owusu failing to bungle the lose ball home at the far post.
Both sides were unwilling to step on the gas pedals in attack and it remained a tactical contest limited to the middle of the pack.
Tusker’s attack strategy was on the wings, trying to use the speed of Luis Misiko and Noah Wafula to break up the defense and make most of Owusu’s physical presence inside the box.
Owusu should have done better with a chance that presented itself in the 21st minute from as Misiko cross but the ball bounced onto his hand unmarked inside the box after Musa Mohammed had missed an attempt to clear the ball.
Wafula had another chance in the 33rd minute from another Misiko delivery, but his low drive from the edge of the box evaded the target by a whisker.
In the second half, both sides maintained the same tempo with Gor tactician Jose Marcelo hauling off Omino for Innocent Wafula while his opposite number Paul Nkata brought on Clifford Alwanga for Noah Wafula.
While Tusker scored in the 68th minute, Gor were preparing Jacques Tuyisenge to come on and after the troubles quelled, the Rwandese was brought on for Enock Agwanda.
The Amavubi Stars forward brought an immediate impact and his presence gave the Tusker back-line something extra to think about.
TUsker forward Mike Khamati who had come on for Owusu should have buried the game four minutes after it restarted, but he struck his effort high over the bar after breaking the offside trap with only the keeper to beat.
With 15 minutes added on after the lapse of regulation time, Gor raised the tempo and four minutes in, Tuyisenge came close with a wonderfully struck free-kick which was headed off the line by his team mate.
The Rwandese had another effort with a half volley blocked by Eugene Asike five minutes to the final whistle.
Tusker managed to defend the slender lead and inflict a first loss on Gor’s coach Marcelo.