MUMIAS, Kenya, Aug 6 – Super-sub Kepha Aswani notched a brace as AFC Leopards came two goals from behind to beat visitors Ushuru FC 3-2 in an early Kenyan Premier League kick-off played at the Mumias Sports Complex on Saturday.
Goals from Maurice Odipo and Dennis Wafula had given Ushuru a comfortable lead at the break but Leopards made a comeback in the second half from Aswani’s brace and another substitute Bernard Bunyasi.
Leopards head coach Ivan Minnaert made the two changes on the start of the second half after his side struggled in the opening half where his defence gifted Ushuru the two goals.
The win sees Leopards climb to eighth on 28 points while Ushuru, who entered the clash from a 4-0 loss at the hands of Western Stima in mid-week, inched closer to the relegation zone as they sit 14th on 22 points.
Despite a see-saw display in the opening six minutes, Ushuru took down their opponents with relative ease but Liberian Import Roosevelt Blaty missed a sitter just after kick-off when his short was deflected for a goal kick.
The visitors made good use of Leopards’ poor marking at the back when Odipo glanced home a header from Heritier Luvalu’s corner in the 17th minute.
Blatty could have made it two when he was left unmarked on the 27th minute but he only managed to hit the side net.
However, the Liberian made the amends three minutes later when he unleashed a thunderbolt after a good 1-2 combination with Luvalu to see Leopards custodian Ian Otieno spill the shot for Odipo to tap home the opener.
The goal inspired Ushuru, who were threatening upfront and they could have found another goal when Blaty turned inside out Leopards defender to curl in a cross but Otieno was alert to parry it over.
It was the end of Ushuru’s domination when teams resumed for the last half as Leopards took control of the game after Minaert introduced Aswani for Allan Kateregga and Bunyasi for Jack Bruno.
The double substitution meant Leopards opened their midfield at the same going for goals and it didn’t took long for the changes to be felt when Ushuru keeper Shaban Odhoji was forced to parry away John Ndirangu’s shot.
Aswani pulled one back in the 65th minute when he headed in from Edwin Wafula’s fine cross from the right.
Ushuru found themselves on the receiving end again when Bunyasi restored parity with a wonderful long range screamer from the midfield that went in between Odhoji’s legs.
Aswani completed his brace after Ushuru’s back-line slipped to see the former Thika United forward pick the pass from the midfield to control the ball before placing it on the far right corner past Odhoji.