NAIROBI, Kenya May 8- Posta Rangers moved back to third spot on the SportPesa Premier League standings after holding AFC Leopards to a barren draw at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday evening.
In the early kick off, Mathare United remained second after coming from two goals down to pick a point against visiting Western Stima.
Ivan Minnaert’s Leopards were coming into the match of three back to back losses in all competitions and were eager to get themselves back into the top three.
From the first whistle, the game had all the markings of an epic game. As early as the first minute, Rangers who were on a run of five matches without a loss showed their intent, Joseph Nyaga heading across the face of goal an Edwin Mwaura cross.
Rangers had started the game on a high and were using their strength on the wings to string attacks but Eugene Ambulwa and Ramadhan Yakub were always well placed to cut off the danger.
Leopards had their first chance of the match in the 12th minute, quick play from Simon Abuko and Clifton Miheso on the left finding Kepha Aswani who teed up Andrew Tololwa but the latter’s shot went wide.
Zedekiah Otieno’s charges kept their feet forward, attacking in numbers and in pace.
Jockins Atudo had the first effort on target in the game after 18 minutes forcing Lucas Indeche to a save with his feet from a freekick 35 yards out.
Joseph Nyaga had the game’s best chance in the 25th minute when his tap unmarked at the far post from a decent Timothy Otieno cross went against the upright.
Otieno, on form from champions Gor Mahia had been enterprising on the right side of attack, using his speed to lay in crosses. On the half hour mark, Otieno made one of his trademark runs but his cross could not find anyone to tap home, Leopards clearing.
At the stroke of half time, Ingwe had a superb chance to end the half on a high.
Rangers center back Salim Abdallah had passed the ball back to Atudo but the skipper let the ball roll allowing Abuko to race him and beat him to it.
However, Kepha Aswani could not punish the mistake as his shot from Abuko’s cut back was deflected onto the upright.
-Mathare come back to draw against Stima-
In the second half, both teams came from the changing room determined to break the deadlock. It was AFC who had the earliest chance, Abuko picking a loose ball alone inside the box but he could not beat Patrick Matasi one on one, the Rangers custodian narrowing the angle and Abuko shooting wide.
The rest of the game degenerated into a contest in midfield with none of the two sides managing to get any meaningful threat.
Towards the end, Indeche pulled two decent stops, first stretching to pick put a long range effort from Mukaisi while in the final minute of added time, he spread his body nicely one on one to deny substitute Georson Likonoh.
Earlier on, Mathare United ensured they remained within striking range of leaders Tusker FC coming from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Western Stima. Baron Oketch and Fredrick Nyarombo had given Stima a priceless 2-0 lead at half time and they thought they were on course for a third consecutive win until a huge fight from Mathare saw them share spoils.
Oketch opened the scores in the seventh minute after rounding off keeper Peter Odhiambo and Nyarombo made it 2-0 after 26 minutes, heading in a Fredrick Shimonyo cross.
Despite going down, Francis Kimanzi’s Mathare showed resilience. Nine minutes from the restart, George Owino halved the deficit when he rose to head in a Robinson Kamura freekick. Stima had chances to win the game through two very decent counters.
Oketch beat Whyvonne Isuza and Kamura for pace on the right in the 80th minute but his cross back to Nyarombo inside the box was cut out by a rushing Owino.
The defender came to the rescue again three minutes from time when he pulled off a superb tackle to pick the ball off Junior Mugambi’s feet inside the box after another quickly executed counter.
Stima were punished for the missed chances, Daniel Mwaura heading into the net in the final minute of the match after Stima keeper Gabriel Andika punched a cross from Kamura onto his path.
The draw now sees Mathare move to 23 points, one behind leaders Tusker FC.