NAKURU, April 15- Substitute Abdul Hassan stepped off the bench to score a 90th minute equalizer as Kenyan Premier League defending champions Tusker FC fought from a goal down to draw 1-1 with Ulinzi Stars at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru.
In a frantic final 15 minutes of the match, it was a game of the substitutes as Ulinzi who had been wasteful infront of goal opened the scoring in the 77th minute of the match.
With barely 30 seconds on the pitch, Stephen Waruru in his first appearance for Ulinzi stars this season volleyed home the opener for the soldiers, but a lapse in concentration towards the end cost them three vital points.
“I am disappointed because we conceded the goal in a manner which we had talked before. These are two points drawn and I am disappointed that we could not win today. We have another game on Wednesday and now we have to put our heads up and hope we improve from the mistakes,” Ulinzi head coach Benjamin Nyangweso said.
George Nsimbe, his Tusker FC counterpart was elated with the point despite playing at home and is confident the team has gathered enough momentum after a poor start to the campaign.
“I am happy especially with Hassan because this was his first match and in training he had been working very hard. It was a tough match against tough opponents and we are thankful because of the point,” the Ugandan tactician told Capital Sport after the game.
Ulinzi will have only themselves to blame dropping the two points after having good scoring chances in the match, the best of which fell on Enosh Ochieng.
On the half hour mark, the forward was sent through by Brian Birgen who had hopped past a few markers from the right, but Ochieng could not beat Duncan Ochieng in the Tusker goal one on one.
Nsimbe had to reshuffle his pre-match plans with experienced defender Lloyd Wahome limping off injured and in his place brought in Ugandan Martin Kiiza.
Tusker had been the best side in the opening minutes of the match, but had struggled to break in to get a scoring chance past a stonewall Ulinzi defense that has conceded only once this season.
Five minutes to the break, they had a great opportunity with Michael Khamati side stepping Ben Sande at the heart of the Ulinzi defense, but a brave Ulinzi keeper James Saruni came all out spreading his body on the floor to thwart the effort.
At the start of the second half, Nsimbe brought on Clifford Alwanga in a bid to spice up the attack.
The former KCB forward provided a decent chance in the 57th minute after a few step-overs saw him go past Birgen, but his low cross was cut out by Sande with Allan Wanga salivating for the ball at the back.
On the hour mark, Enosh had a second super opportunity for the soldiers with Daniel Waweru sending him through from the counter attack, but he took a first touch taking him to a wide angle and his last ditch effort of planting the ball in the net was futile, the ball rolling wide.
Ulinzi were an improved side and in the 77th minute, they got their reward.
Waruru had just raced into the box after coming on for Enosh and he was fed with the ball by Waweru who lofted the ball into the box before the pint-sized attacker showed his old self with a thumping volley to beat Duncan Ochieng at the Tusker goal.
Tusker upped their ante in search of an equalizer and in the 84th minute, Hassan came close but saw his volley parried by Saruni.
From the counter, Cliff Kasuti should have taken Ulinzi two up but his shot at the far post from a Sammy Onyango cross went inches over the bar.
The soldiers were made to pay at the stroke of 90 minutes when Wanga flicked home a cross from Alwanga, finding an unmarked Hassan who put in a left foot shot past a helpless Saruni.
Ulinzi who remain unbeaten this season now move to eight points with a match at hand while Tusker move to five.