NAIROBI, Kenya, July 16- Ezekiel Odera scored with eight minutes to play as City Stars fought from a goal down to draw 1-1with Ulinzi Stars at the Nyayo National Stadium on Saturday.
The draw gives a vital point for City Stars fighting relegation and they now reduce the gap between them and safety to just two points while Ulinzi Stars’ title hopes continue to fizzle out after a third winless match.
The military side, coming off the backdrop of back-to-back losses got the best of starts in the match with a second minute own goal by City Stars centre back Luis Masika.
Ulinzi had started with pace and Masika was forced to turn the ball into his own net in an attempt to cut out a low cross from Ben Sande intended for Enosh Ochieng inside the box.
But that was just about it as a rejuvenated City Stars, eying redemption from relegation quagmire picked up with as much pace, seeking for an equalizer that would jig them to fight for a winner.
The Kawangware based side came close in the 18th minute but Oliver Maloba’s fierce shot from 10 yards out came off the upright after a mix up in the Ulinzi defense that saw Omar Mbongi and Sande clash, the ball falling graciously for Maloba.
City Stars kept the pressure but were almost caught off on the counter attack in the 22nd minute.
John Mark Makwatta could not lay off a decent cross to kill off his former side after breaking on the right with John Amboko managing to clear his lines as Enosh tried to run in.
Ulinzi were forced to play second fiddle by the young and enterprising City Stars side who sprayed passes at will but never had a say in the final third when it mattered most. Perhaps the absece of talisman Jimmy Bageya who is serving a one match suspension watered down their strength going forward.
Makwatta with eight goals to his credit so far this campaign was a closely marked man and found it tough to penetrate into the usual pockets of space he loves to run in.
With the two teams heading into the break Ulinzi one up, City Stars would feel they should have gotten off with something.
The soldiers sought to start the second half with the same tempo they had at the start of the first half with Samwel Onyango missing a great opportunity unmarked inside the box from a Mbongi cross.
Makwatta had an effort in the 54th minute from a freekick but it sailed straight into Ronnie Kagunzi’s arm in the City Stars goal.
Ulinzi brought in Churchill Muloma for John Kago and Ezekiel Otuoma for Daniel Waweru a clear attempt by Matano to seal the match.
But it was the hosts who were better and hungrier as they dumped all available arsenal into the Ulinzi half, seeking an equalizer.
They finally had it on the 82nd with Odera scoring on the second bite of the cherry after his initial effort had been saved by Ulinzi custodian James Saruni after his defense was caught napping.
After the goal, City Stars tactician Tamale Pinto brought on Joseph Sakwa for goal scorer Odera as they opted to go all out offensive in the remaining minutes.