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Mathare silence Gor to ease relegation fears

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Chris Ochieng wheels away celebrating his lone goal against Gor Mahia in a Kenyan Premier League match at Thika Stadium on October 14, 2017. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14- Dylan Kerr suffered his first loss since taking charge of Gor Mahia on Saturday as Chris Oduor’s fifth minute strike saw 2008 Kenyan Premier League champions Mathare United complete a rare double over the league leaders.

It was a momentous victory for the slum boys as they eased their relegation fears, moving to 30 points on the log to inch closer to survival, while for Gor Mahia it was their title charge that would be forced to wait a bit longer.

Coincidentally, Mathare was the last side to inflict a loss on Gor and they replicated the same result from April, on the same ground to pick only their third victory over K’Ogalo since 2009.

It wasn’t really the best day for Gor. All the signs that lady luck had smiled away from them were evident in the second minute when Karim Nizigiyimana limped off injured after twisting his ankle

Gor Mahia fans rallying behind their team. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

It was a strange day for Gor and Kerr as for the first time in a long while, the 15-time KPL champions felt a bit lonely without their strong 12th man as the stadium was quiet with few Green Army turning up.

Up until about the 20th minute when a few drum-beating, slogan chanting fans arrived, the Thika Sub-County Stadium was as dead as a dodo with a few scattered fans across the dias.

The Kenyan Premier League leaders fell behind for the first time since the arrival of British Coach Dylan Kerr in the fifth minute when Oduor slapped home his 10th goal of the season from the edge of the area after Cliff Nyakeya, a former Gor Youth academy product teed him up from a Chris Ochieng cross.

It wasn’t an exactly good day in the office for Gor as nothing was working for them. The absence of midfield kingpin Ernest Wendo was screaming loud with Rwandese Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza sent in to deputize him struggling to slip into the massive boots left.

Gor lost the ball cheaply at the centre of the pack and their usual creative mind Kenneth Muguna found it tough to spray his usual defense splitting through balls with Roy Okal and Edward Seda dominating play with Oduor doing perfectly well in the supportive play.

Gor Mahia midfielder Jean Claude Mugiraneza vies for the ball with m,athare United’s Edward Seda in a Kenyan Premier League match at the Thika Stadium on October 14, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

They had to wait until the half hour mark to have their first real chance of the game and Mathare shot stopper Levis Opiyo was the only standing wall between them and an equalizer.

The keeper leapt well to his left to pick out a curling freekick from Francis Kahata which had come over the wall and managed to spring back superbly to stop Wellington Ochieng’s effort after the defender sprinted to the rebound.

Four minutes later, Nyakeya had a go at goal from almost 40 yards with a screaming shot after the Gor defense cleared a corner right on his path.

Mathare United goalkeeper Levis Opiyo clears the ball with team-MATES. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

On the turn, Opiyo was once again in super form to stop Gor. The ball fell kindly on an unmarked Kahata at the far left after Tuyisenge’s miscued kick and the left footed midfielder set himself up with the first touch before slicing a stinging shot which Opiyo punched away for a corner.

Four minutes into the second half, Mathare United had a brilliant chance to go two up but Boniface Oluoch kept Gor in the game. Chris Ochieng burst into the edge of the box, shot at goal but Oluoch stretched out a foot to block the effort.

Eight minutes later, they had a great opportunity with a freekick from the edge of the box when Harun Shakava’s outstretched to Chirs Ochieng’s face, but Nyakeya sent the effort straight to the wall.

Mathare United’s goal scorer Chris Oduor controls the ball under pressure from Gor Mahia midfielder Jean Baptiste Mugiraneza in a Kenyan Premier League match at the Thika Stadium on October 14, 2017. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

But Gor started to assert themselves more into the game, attacking more and keeping possession better. Jack Tuyisenge had two chances in the space of four minutes, but both went begging.

On the hour mark, the Rwandese forward outmuscled Okal for the ball before finding shooting space from the edge but his shot went straight to Opiyo in the Mathare goal.

In the 64th minute, Tuyisenge’s dipping header from a Kenneth Muguna freekick went slightly over the bar with Opiyo beaten.

Two minutes on the turn, Mathare should have put the game to bed but they wasted yet another glorious opportunity.

Musa Mohammed’s clearance came off Mugiranza’s back and Chris Ochieng picked the ball into the box, sliding past keeper Oluoch, but he took too much time with the ball allowing Mohammed back to block his eventual effort.

With Timothy Otieno coming in for George Odhiambo for Gor, it was a clear attacking intent. The league leaders piled pressure hoping for an equalizer but their efforts came to nothing. The closest they came was via a Kahata freekick which curled beyond the wall but was saved by Opiyo.

Mugiraneza had another late effort deep in stoppage time with a lone header at the far post but it was easily collected by Opiyo.

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