NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 19- Gor Mahia head coach Jose Marcelo Ferreira fisted the side of the bench in anger after referee Juma Turke’s final whistle as his players sunk into the Nyayo National Stadium turf in disappointment.
In the second minute of added time, substitute Bernard Ondiek sneaked between the Gor defense to head in an equalizer as Western Stima picked a 2-2 draw against K’Ogalo to further dent the holders’ chances of retaining the title.
The result now means leaders Tusker are enjoying a six point buffer between them and Gor and will only need two wins and a draw in the remaining four matches to confirm their status as the 2016 KPL champions.
But Ferreira still hasn’t conceded that it’s game over for them. “We have to fight, nothing else. Today, we did nothing wrong. We play two matches within a space of three days and definitely there is not much to say about it. Six points is still not much. We can’t lose hope,” the tactician offered, with obvious disappointment written all over his face.
Godfrey Walusimbi’s header in the 77th minute coupled with Enock Agwanda’s 51st minute penalty had given them hope after coming from a goal down to lead 2-1 but a lapse in concentration in the final minute meant shared spoils.
Stima head coach Henry Omino was left fuming at what he called two dropped points. “If you look at their players, they had already given up and were only waiting for us to score the second goal. They were brought back into the game by the referee and had the upper hand in motivation,” Omino fumed after the match.
The power men got into the lead at the stroke of half time from a swiftly after Otieno saw the back of the net with his weaker right foot, putting the ball into the far post after picking up a low cross from Brian Marita following a swiftly executed counter attack.
The goal came just after Jacques Tuyisenge had missed a golden opportunity on the other end, seeing Gabriel Andika save his shot with his feet after dispossessing the defense in a dangerous position.
Ferreira had made changes to the squad that lost the KPL Top Eight final to Muhoroni Youth last Sunday, Boniface Oluoch returning in goal ahead of Jerim Onyango while Wellington Ochieng started only his second game since joining from Muhoroni, starting ahead of Karim Nizigiyimana who was given a rest.
In midfield, Anthony ‘Baggio’ Mbugua started in place of the injured Ernest Wendo while Enock Agwanda also started upfront ahead of Meddie Kagere.
The hosts had a bright start with Ochieng nearly capping off his start with a goal in the 10th minute but his header from a Godfrey Walusimbi volley went inches over the bar.
Stima were in no mood of sitting back and clinging on for a point as they never played with the handbrakes, taking on the Gor defense whenever an opportunity presented itself.
Kenneth Mugambi had a shot blocked in the 22nd minute by Musa Mohammed after picking the ball from a Wesley Onguso cross.
A minute later, Boniface Oluoch pulled off a great save, taking the ball off Brian Marita’s feet as the winger attempted step-overs to move past the keeper after dispossessing Erick ‘Marcelo’ Ouma from the right.
Five minutes to the break, right back Ochieng had another superb opportunity after breaking the offside trap but his connection from a Harun Shakava cross went wide unmarked at the edge of the six yard box.
At the start of the second half, Musa Mohammed who had picked up a knock in the first half came off and in his place came Innocent Wafula who was making his first appearance in almost two months.
Six minutes into the half, Agwanda levelled matters from the spot after Tuyisenge was brought down just inside the box after a flurry of sliding tackles came his way as he turned to shoot at goal.
Five minutes later, Stima almost snatched back the lead but Oluoch produced a fine save to deny former Gor boy Herbart Kopany who had taken a well struck volley from the edge of the box.
On the hour mark, prodigal son Collins ‘Gattuso’ Okoth was called in, taking Mbugua’s place in midfield with the latter having struggled to assert authority, losing many balls and lacking defensive discipline.
Gor continued to pile pressure in search of a winner and left back Ouma came close with a rasping shot from distance that went wide,
The pressure finally bore off with 13 minutes left on the clock, Walusimbi sneaking in to head past Andika after Wafula’s cross had deflected off a defender.
But what they thought was a win turned out to be sour grapes in their mouths with Ondiek’s late goal.