NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 15- What seemed like a second string Gor Mahia squad beat Zoo Kericho 4-2 as the Kenyan Premier League defending champions moved back to the summit of the standings with their second consecutive win of the season at the Kericho Green Stadium on Thursday.
Goals from Jack Tuyisenge, Boniface Omondi, Joachim Oluoch and Samuel Onyango saw Gor pick maximum points on the road with Zoo scoring via skipper Johnstone Ligare and Nicholas Kipkurui.
Head coach Dylan Kerr made nine changes from the side that won 2-0 against Leones Vegeteranios in the CAF Champions League over the weekend, with his eyes fixed on the return leg in Malabo on Wednesday.
The only two surviving members from that team were captain Harun Shakava and forward Meddie Kagere.
However, the downside to Gor Mahia’s second consecutive four-goal show was the injury suffered by striker Tuyisenge, barely five minutes after hitting the opener.
Kerr approached the match with a change in formation as well, going for three at the back with new signing Charles Momanyi making his debut while Oluoch made his first start for the club since joining in June last year.
Wesley Onguso and Omondi were employed as wingbacks with Cersidy Okeyo, Philemon Otieno and Bernard Ondieki playing through the centre of the pack. Tuyisenge and Kagere were paired up in attack.
It was a fast paced opening half with each side giving enormous energy into attack.
Oluoch had the game’s first two chances, both coming off set pieces. In the second minute of the match, he failed to direct a header into the net a yard off goal after Momanyi had flicked through a corner from Omondi.
Six minutes later, he had another chance this time from Onguso’s trademark long throws, but keeper Martin Elung’at was well placed to pick the effort.
Zoo who started the season with a loss at the hands of Ulinzi Stars were not showing any signs of fear and they had their first chance in the 10th minute when Danson Chetambe tried his luck from distance, but the effort was wide.
In the 12th minute, Gor had a glorious opportunity when Tuyisenge sighted a Kagere run into the box, slapped in a cross from the right but his fellow Rwandese could not connect with the goalmouth at his mercy.
Zoo had another opportunity at goal in the 18th minute, but it took the intervention of a fully stretched Oluoch to tap the ball behind for a corner when Bernard Odhiambo crossed in from the right with Nicholas Kipkurui lurking at the far post.
The hosts had an even better chance in the 22nd minute and should have buried it but Chetambe wasted the opportunity. From a swiftly executed counter attack, Chetambe was through on goal with only keeper Shabaan Odhoji to beat, but his effort at lifting the ball over him was awry, the ball going wide.
On the half hour mark, Ondieki had an opportunity to cap his debut with a goal when he was put through on goal by Omondi, but his low effort from the edge of the box was saved by Elung’at.
Ultimately, Gor got the goal they had knocked so hard for when Tuyisenge simply tapped in from a yard out after a cross from Omondi who had been put through with a defense splitting pass from Philemon Otieno.
The hosts almost made an immediate response two minutes later after some good team movement, but Odhoji was at hand to keep his side in the game, palming away a stinging shot from Odhiambo.
It turned out to be a bad day for Tuyisenge as he was forced out injured after 40 minutes following an awkward fall as he vied for the ball with the keeper.
The pace of the game didn’t drop an inch lower in the second half and within three minutes of the restart, Gor were 2-0 up.
Omondi rushing in at the back post tapped home from a Meddie Kagere cross, with Dennis Otieno’s attempt to clear it off the line coming in late.
Zoo however brought themselves back into the game halving the deficit in the 56th minute when Ligare thumped in a header from an Isaac Kipyegon freekick.
The hosts had some increased confidence with an equalizer in sight, pumping in the pressure but they could not find a way to get past Gor Mahia’s defense.
Twenty minutes from time, Zoo’s strength was nipped right at the bud when Oluoch made it 3-1 with a low finish from inside the box after bouncing in to a rebound when Shakava’s shot came off the crossbar.
Three minutes later it was 4-1 when substitute Samuel Onyango scored his first goal in Gor colors with a simple tap in after rushing on to a spilled ball from Elung’at who could not hold on to Kagere’s shot.
But the game’s drama was not just about over when Nicholas Kipkurui scored Zoo’s second with a shot from the edge of the box. Onyango had quickly turned from hero to villain when he lost the ball cheaply Kipkurui punishing instantly.
Both teams gave in energy in the final 15 minutes, but the goals seemed to have dried up.