NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – Stephen Waruru struck a brace in the final 15 minutes of the game as Ulinzi Stars wrestled from two goals down to hold 15-time champions Gor Mahia to a 2-2 draw at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu on Sunday.
The game had to be stopped for almost 20 minutes after a section of Gor fans caused trouble shortly after Waruru had grabbed the equalizer with two minutes left on the clock. They seemed to have been irked by the striker’s celebration, holding his jersey up high to their direction.
After assessing the disquiet for close to 20 minutes, referee Raymond Onyango restarted thematch and only played the two remaining minutes before the final whistle was sounded.
In Meru, new signing Cosmas Lewis scored on his debut in the 27th minute, tapping in a Duncan Otewa cross as Paul Nkata beat his former employers, ending their perfect run that had seen them pick seven wins and one draw in their last eight assignments.
It wasn’t an exact good day for the brewers at their new home ground in Meru as they were limited in chances with their best in the opening half coming through a Martin Kiiza shot from distance which was well saved by the Bandari keeper.
In the second half, Tusker pitched camp in Bandari’s half but were never successful, with Jackson Macharia having the closest of chances with two efforts that went wide.
Bandari were to be reduced to nine men in the final minutes of the game, first Michael Luvutsi handed a straight red card for punching Macharia while goal scorer Cosmas was sent off for a second yellow card.
Back to Kisumu, a first half goal from Karim Nizigiyimana and an own goal from Mohammed Hassan had given Gor a healthy lead at the break, easing loads of pressure on head coach Zedekiah Otieno.
Gor who had started stronger got into the lead in the 33rd minute when Nizigiyimana intercepted a through pass from Kenneth Muguna before beating James Saruni in the Ulinzi goal one on one.
Prior to that, Gor had created a few close chances, first Muguna attempting to send through Jacques Tuyisenge but Saruni was quicker off his line to collect.
Saruni was also at hand to thwart Gor again when he bravely came in to intercept a cross meant for Meddie Kagere from George Odhiambo. But after 33 minutes, he could not stop Nizigiyimana.
The Burundian right back almost made a second goal in the 40th minute with one of his marauding runs on the wing, teasing the defense that he was going up for a cross and instead taking a shot at goal.
At the start of the second half, Ulinzi changed strategy, head coach Benjamin Nyangweso bringing out Sylus Shitote for John Kago and Oliver Rutto for Omar Mbongi.
The change meant Brian Birgen who had been started up on the offensive right dropped back to defense while Mbongi, making a first appearance since March went in straight to left back.
But it was Gor who would get in the bargain at the business end, Mohammed Hassan deflecting a shot from Meddie Kagere into his own net.
The military side was stunned going two goals down for the first time this season and Nyangweso responded by adding in the attacking forepower, bringing on striker Enosh Ochieng for midfielder Churchill Muloma.
The visitors upped the tempo and were rewarded in the 73rd minute when Waruru tapped home into an empty net a cross from Samuel Onyango after Gor keeper Peter Odhiambo missed it.
He completed his brace, a 10th goal of the season after winning the ball from a set-piece, side stepping the keeper and tapping into an empty net.