NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19- Gor Mahia Youth survived a late surge from Western Stima to win 2-1 and throw Group B of the December Kenyan Premier League under-20 championship wide open with all three teams having three points apiece.
Having lost their opening game 2-1 to Posta Rangers, the K’Ogalo juniors needed nothing short of three points to revive their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages.
Ulinzi Warriors, who beat Posta Rangers 4-1 in their second game earlier, leads the group on goal difference while Posta are second, Gor third and Stima bottom.
In the final round of group matches on Wednesday, Ulinzi plays Gor at the Camp Toyoyo Ground while Posta plays Western Stima. Any side which wins will progress to the last eight.
Stima who had two Harambee Stars Under-20 starters in John Macharia and Musa Masika both from Laiser Hill School would have assured themselves of a place in the quarters even before the last round of fixtures had they used their chances in the second half.
Gor started the match brighter and eight minutes in, Hillary Ojwang’ gave them a much deserved lead with a well taken finish.
The Maurice Onyango charges would have doubled their tally in the 17th minute, but Harambee Stars U-20 player Teddy Osok saw his penalty saved by the Stima custodian after a handball inside the box.
Osok sought to write the wrongs from his penalty miss and increased his industry in the final third of attack and was close in the 22nd minute with a well struck effort from 20 yards which flew inches above the target.
Ojwang’ came close to grabbing a brace in the 34th minute but he could not direct his header between the sticks after rising well to meet an Edwin Musyoki delivery from a freekick.
Stima had struggled to assert their authority in the match with the pint sized Macharia finding it difficult to maneuver in midfield with a very physical Gor side. Seven minutes from the breather though, a good chance from a counter presented itself.
Masika won the ball deep in their own half, drove into the Gor half and put Victor Ogendo through. However, the striker took the difficult option of trying to score from a tight angle when he had better placed team mates inside the box to finish up the job.
Gor doubled their tally five minutes into the second half thanks to a defensive blooper from Brian Otieno which found Nashon Thiong’o who rose high to head past the advancing keeper but however got injured in the process.
In his place, Gor senior side midfielder Amos Nondi who captained the team previously came on.
But Stima would be the hungrier side as they started playing with more urgency. Masika should have halved the deficit in the 70th minute but he failed to beat the Gor keeper one-on-one after being sent through by Steve Otieno.
Two minutes later, a marauding run by Ogendo on the right resulted in a low cross that was missed by Masika and Geoffrey Okeyo inside the box.
Ogendo however lifted Stima spirits with a scrambled goal inside the six yard box from a Macharia cut back, coming just minutes after Masika had missed another one on one situation with the keeper.
Despite added pressure, Stima coached by senior team and Harambee Stars assistant coach Hezbon Nyabinge could not scrape a point off the match.