NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2- Jockins Atudo’s thunderbolt of a freekick five minutes to time gave Posta Rangers a 1-0 win over Kenyan Premier League defending champions Tusker FC as late drama lit up an otherwise dull encounter between the two sides at Nyayo National Stadium on Wednesday.
Atudo ferociously drove in a freekick from 40 yards, just two minutes after they had a goal disallowed and Posta striker Dennis Mukaisi sent off.
From a long Luke Ochieng throw-in, Atudo seemed to have flicked the ball into the net but after consultation with his first assistant Emmanuel Barasa, centre referee Raymond Onyango ruled out the goal saying it had gone straight in without being touched.
From the protests, Mukaisi was dished with a second yellow card and given his matching orders. There was more drama as Tusker quickly started off play with the Posta players still protesting, but on second thought, Onyango whistled to pull back play.
The win temporarily takes Rangers to the top of the table with 32 points with Gor Mahia one point below but are facing Nakumatt FC at the same venue.
“This game should have ended 2-0 because we scored a legitimate goal and I wonder why the referee had to cancel it. However, I am pleased with my players and how we responded to the situation especially being a man less in very nervous minutes,” Posta Rangers head coach Sammy Omollo told Capital Sports after the game.
His opposite number George Nsimbe was left dejected with the loss seeing his men slump into a five-match winless streak.
“It is disappointing because it seems we are not lucky. Today was not our day. We go back to the drawing board and hope to bounce back in the next match. We have to improve on our finishing because most of the times we play well but fail to score,” the Ugandan offered.
It wasn’t the best match to the eyes in the opening 80 minutes.
The afternoon cold might have dampened the feet of both sides as none gave in as much in attack and the slippery nature of the pitch occasioned by the light showers that have hit the city late morning drastically reduced the tempo of the match.
With both Luke Ochieng and first choice keeper Patrick Matasi returning from suspension, it was Ochieng who slotted right back into the team partnering Atudo in defense while head coach Sammy ‘Pamzo’ Omollo stuck with Farouk Shikhalo in goal as Matasi stayed on the bench.
Tusker’s team from the Sunday match saw captain James Situma and Eugene Asike partner in defense while Cersidy Okeyo came into midfield in place of the suspended Hashim Ssempala.
Both teams sized each other up, none taking the initiative to punch up the pace and attack, resulting Pamzo into an early substitution, pulling out winger Edwin Mwaura for John Nairuka after the former picked up a thigh strain in the 17th minute.
Chances were few and far in between. Okeyo’s low shot from inside the box after running into space from 40 yards went wide in the 25th minute. On the other end, Posta had two long range efforts from Nairuka and Mukaisi but both went begging.
Three minutes from half time, a long range freekick from Collins Shivachi went wide as the two teams went to the breather with nothing to separate them.
Nsimbe then introduced Danson Kago into the pitch for the first time since January with the speedy winger coming back after a long injury lay off, taking up Muchiri’s place. He lit up the wings with his electrifying pace but still, nothing would give in the final third.
Posta’s Erick Kibiru, who was on to a rare start coming in ahead of Joseph Mbugi should have crowned off his moment with a goal in the 70th minute, but his drive from a Joseph Kuria layup was well sighted by Tusker Keeper Dancun Ochieng.
After going 1-0 up and a man down, Posta were subjected to nervous moments inside their box. First, Ochieng pulled up a great tackle to deny Macharia who was preparing to pull the trigger after finding shooting space.
Two minutes to full time, Shikhalo stretched fully to make a one handed save off a Khamati shot and from the resultant corner, Tusker couldn’t make out any effort on target.