MACHAKOS, Kenya May 14- Tusker FC stretched their lead at the top of the SportPesa Premier League table to four points after beating struggling Sofapaka 1-0 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Saturday.
The biggest talking point of the match revolved around Sofapaka’s Barnabas Tiema.
He came on in the second half but never lasted more than ten minutes as he was replaced by Dennis Monda with no sign of injury on him.
At 1-0 down, the goalkeeper turned striker had a mammoth chance to take his side back on level terms 11 minutes to time, but he hit the side netting less than three yards out.
“He had an open chance with the goal at his mercy but never took it. As a coach I have to take a decision and players have to take responsibility. We trained for these things and losing does not mean I am a bad coach,” Sofapaka head coach David Ouma said after the match
Against a team that hit them five last season, odds were hugely stacked against Batoto ba Mungu who have won only twice this season.
League leaders Tusker though never gave in as much and their pale performance further questioned their title ambitions and their ability to battle with the league’s big boys.
Herritier Luvualu who alongside skipper Wycliffe Opondo were the only shining lights in Sofapaka’s performance had an 18th minute effort from a free-kick punched away by Tusker goalie David Okello.
Humphrey Mieno, handed the Tusker skipper’s armband in the absence of James Situma was employed in a more advanced midfield role alongside Anthony Ndolo but he seemed to have loosened up his scoring boots.
The Kenyan international had a decent chance in the 36th minute after being put through by Ndolo inside the box but he struck high.
At the stroke of half time, Ghanaian Stephen Owusu was presented with a superb chance from Ronald Musana’s cut back but his shot on the left foot was deflected for a corner.
In the second half, Tusker head coach Paul Nkata pulled off Musana who had struggled to assert his authority in the game bringing in former Gor Mahia and AFC Leopards winger Timonah Wanyonyi.
The Aspire Academy graduate brought the much needed speed on the wings and he almost made an immediate impact with one of his trademark runs on the right but his eventual cross was a little bit higher than Owusu’s height inside the box.
Wanyonyi was put through by Mieno but he took a heavy first touch allowing George Otieno to nod the ball away to safety.
Sofapaka too gave account of themselves and also had two chances, first Francis Otieno’s diving header at the far post from a Luvualu cross going wide in the 56th minute while six minutes later the Congolese had a shot from the left hit the upright.
Nkata then made his second change in the 65th minute, bringing off Owusu for Mike Khamati and the former AFC Leopards hit man took just three minutes to assert his presence when he teed up Ndolo for the lone goal of the match from a deep Wanyonyi cross.
With 15 minutes left, Nkata switched his playing shape, switching to three at the back by pulling out right back Collins Shivachi for striker Clifford Alwanga.
The brewers managed to hold on to the slim lead to the final whistle but were lucky that apart from Tiema’s miss Sofapaka never bothered their back line much.
In other matches played on Saturday, Posta Rangers saw their fine run of form nipped in the bud after suffering a 1-0 loss at the hands of Chemelil Sugar at the Nyayo National Stadium with Fred Ajwang scoring the all important goal.
In Awendo, Sony Sugar’s resurgence continued as they won by a similar margin against visiting Thika United.