NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 9- Elijah Mwanzia’s 89th minute winner sparked wild celebrations at the Ruaraka Complex on Saturday evening as Mathare United beat Western Stima 2-1 to move off the relegation zone for the first time this season.
Substitute Robert Achema had given Stima a lifeline with a 72nd minute equalizer after Chris Oduor had given Mathare the lead, but a resilient Mathare ensured they got the winner to crawl off the jaws of relegation.
“I am really impressed with our fighting spirit and we took risks that paid off. When Stima became a bit physical we brought in players who could match their physicality and at the end of the day it paid off. Our confidence grew and we won,” Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi said after the match.
His opposite number Henry Omino was left distraught especially with Mathare’s winner coming after his central defender Maurice Ojwang had been stretchered off injured.
“They used that space to hit us before we could even re-organize. We wanted to win this match and we had a chance especially with how we played in the second half It hurts but we have to re-organize for Wednesday,” Omino said.
The two sides had started with pace, each with a chance in the opening five minutes. Ezekiel Otuoma found himself isolated inside the box in the second minute from a Brian Marita cross but his diving header went wide though the second assistant ref had the flag up for offside.
On the other end, John ‘Mavado’ Mwangi tested Samuel Odhiambo with a fierce shot from the right but the Stima shot stopper was equal to the task.
Mathare were the better team in the opening half with Roy Okal and Edward Seda commanding the midfield, spraying passes well.
Mathare opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Chris Oduor scored his ninth goal of the season after calmly controlling Seda’s pass in the middle of Stima defenders, showed his strength to shield himself and lob over the keeper.
Five minutes on the turn, Stima had a chance to come back level after Marita had turned George ‘Wise’ Owino inside out on the right, but the Stima man’s eventual shot deflected off Andrew Juma to go wide.
In the second half, Stima were the better side, starting off with so much pace and attacking mode. Marita and Otuoma were causing all sorts of trouble for the Mathare backline but they still couldn’t get the right tact to score.
They eventually did in the 72nd minute and it was a product of two substitutes. Achema tapped in at the far post after Hamadi Mbumba headed the ball towards him.
Marita had won the ball ahead of keeper Levis Opiyo and flicked it behind with the keeper still on the floor and Mbumba then nodded it for Achema to score.
Mathare immediately got back on song after being thrust to action by Stima’s equalizer. Mwangi should have given his side the lead again but his tap from a Seda through ball went wide with keeper Odhiambo out to narrow the angle.
Kimanzi responded by bringing in Mwanzia for Mwangi and the change paid dividends with the former nodding home unmarked inside the box from a Derrick Onyango cross.