NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 11- Leaders Tusker FC dropped vital points in race for the Kenyan Premier League title after being held to a 1-1 draw by Ushuru at the Nyayo National Stadium on Sunday.
The stalemate took Tusker to 45 points, five ahead of second placed defending champions Gor Mahia who have a game at hand against Ulinzi Stars whom they face on Wednesday.
In the early kick-off at the same venue, relegation threatened Nairobi City Stars lost 1-0 to visiting Western Stima while Ulinzi beat Sofapaka 3-1 at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.
Mathare United went down 2-1 to Sony Sugar while Posta Rangers beat Thika United 1-0 to climb sixth on 36 points.
At the Nyayo National Stadium, Gor Mahia technical bench led by head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira and a handful K’Ogalo fans attended the match and in their delight, Tusker failed to maintain a seven point lead.
K’Ogalo now have a chance to close on the Brewers if they collect maximum points against Ulinzi, a result that will see them cut Tusker’s lead to two points with seven matches remaining.
Allan Wanga’s equalizer for Gambian Ebrimmah Sanneh’s early penalty was never enough as Ushuru held on for the point that takes them eight points clear of the relegation zone and end a run of five successive losses.
The frustration after the final whistle was visible all over the Tusker bench and the players in the field after the final whistle, knowing too well pressure will now mount after the result.
Coming into the match, Tusker were missing natural left back Shafik Batambuze, and head coach Fred Nkata opted to patch up with captain James Situma with no other available left footed defender in his squad.
Ushuru were handed a huge boost with Gambian Sanneh donning the Ushuru colors for the first time since signing from City Stars in January after finally acquiring his work permit.
It was a cagy affair in the opening 45 and until Sanneh’s penalty goal in the 19th minute, nothing much had transpired between the two under-pressure sides.
The Gambian sent Harambee Stars second choice keeper David Okello the wrong way, taking responsibility upon himself after being tagged down in the box by defender Lloyd Wahome.
The Brewers equalized in the 37th minute through Wanga who nodded the ball to the far post after Humphrey Mieno had flicked over a long throw from Collins Shivachi.
Tusker had gotten the throw-in after Ushuru custodian Shabaan Odhoji fisted away a fiercely taken freekick from Clifford Alwang’a at the edge of the box following a foul on Wanga.
Tusker started stronger in the second half and they came close on the half hour mark with Wanga almost grabbing his second.
The former El Mereikh and Azam forward failed to capitalize on an error from keeper Odhoji who spilled a cross from Danson Kago.
Wanga came close again this time his header from a Noah Wafula cross missing the target by a whisker.
-City Stars face relegation-
In the early kick off, City Stars’ survival hopes suffered a heavy blow with the loss to Western Stima.
Wesley Kemboi gave the visitors the lead in the 19th minute after racing on to a Fredrick Nyarombo flicked ball from a long pass from keeper Gabriel Andika.
The forward beat Artthur Museve for strength before shooting low past Ronnie Kagunzi.
The hosts had a chance to draw back level three minutes later but Manasseh Orao saw his effort from the right saved by Andika after breaking into the box.
Kenneth Mugambi came close to doubling Stima’s tally but his effort from range hit the crossbar with Kagunzi well beaten.
City Stars created more chances in the second half, the best one falling on Ezekiel Odera who however could not connect into the net from eight yards out after being picked up by a decent chipped ball from Festo Omukoto.
The Kwangware based side’s push was dented in the final five minutes of the match with head coach Richard Tamale being sent to the stands by referee Hajji Adede for protesting a decision, with the match official also being accosted by City Stars players after the match lamenting on some of his decisions.
City Stars remain pegged at the bottom with 14 points but assistant coach Dennis ‘Wise’ Okoth still harbors hopes for survival.
“The last thing a man can lose is hope. We have had a problem in the final third because we create so many chances but we end up losing them. The opponents get a half chance and score then we are done. We will keep on fighting and hopefully we can get something,” Okoth told Capital Sport after the match.