MACHAKOS, Kenya, Feb 25- Ephraim Guikan’s 71st minute goal gave Gor Mahia their third win of the 2018 Kenyan Premier League season with a 2-1 victory over Kariobangi Sharks at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Sunday.
Guikan’s first league goal for K’Ogalo wiped the blushes off keeper Boniface Oluoch whose howler had handed Kariobangi Sharks the equalizer courtesy of Bolton Omwenga’s freekick after Samuel Onyango had given the 16-time KPL champions an early lead.
The win sees Gor Mahia move to nine points, one behind leaders Mathare United but with a match in hand.
Elsewhere at the Thika Stadium, AFC Leopards wiped off their CAF Confederations Cup exit disappointment with a 2-1 win over Ulinzi Stars. The win sees them move four points after playing two matches and will have two more games at hand.
At the stroke of half time, Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr walked straight into the pitch, pissed off and turning red with anger, giving his players a serious hair dryer. He was unimpressed with the first half performance and especially Oluoch’s howler.
Te British tactician had made changes to his team having played in a CAF Champions League tie on Wednesday in Equatorial Guinea.
He maintained his back four, but made changes upfront with Philemon Otieno and Bernard Ondieki manning the midfield while Samuel Onyango and Bernard Omondi ran either wing.
Kagere led the hunt for goals upfront, pairing with the Ivorian Ephraim Guikan.
Just as has been their tradition since Kerr took charge last July, K’Ogalo started with immense pressure. In the sixth minute they had their first effort at goal, Guikan glancing a header wide from Samuel Onyango’s cross.
Three minutes later, they were wheeling away in celebration, roles changing from the first chance, Guikan setting up Onyango.
The former Ulinzi winger had made a decent run on the right with Guikan splitting the defense with a superb pass, Onyango meeting it up on the run, setting himself up and firing past John Oyemba for his second goal of the season.
But Sharks were not willing to be cowed after going down early and they equally gave in a fight. In the 14th minute, Ebrimah Sanneh had a chance with a header at the back post from a Bolton Omwenga corner, but it went wide.
In the 21st minute, Sharks found themselves level courtesy of an Oluoch howler.
The shot-stopper let the ball slip between his legs from an Omwenga freekick from range. It was an easy goal to let in from a keeper of Oluoch’s caliber.
With both teams on level terms, the game turned into an interesting attacking spectacle, each team giving a stab at attacking options.
In the 25th minute, Guikan had another go at goal but his shot from the edge of the box was weak after a little pretty back-heel assist from Kagere.
Five minutes later, Onyango almost made it two for Gor in similar fashion as he had done in scoring the first, breaking off on the right to meet a Kagere pass but this time Oyemba made a superb stop for a corner.
Guikan came ever so close to scoring his first league goal since joining Gor in the 33rd minute but his powerful header off a Kagere cross went straight into the crossbar.
In the final five minutes of the half, Sharks had two superb opportunities to go into the breather a goal up. In the 40th minute, Duke Abuya placed the ball wide unmarked inside the six yard box from Sanneh’s cross.
At the stroke of halftime, the crossbar came to Gor’s rescue after Wellington Ochieng lost the ball on the left. Fidel Origa picked up, fed in Patilah Omotto who set himself up with the first touch before releasing a ferocious shot from inside the area.
In the second half, William Muluya was the first to bolt into making changes, pulling out Origa for youngster James Mazembe.
On the hour mark, Kerr made a response with a double switch, Onyango and Omondi coming off for Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi and Francis Kahata. On his end, Muluya threw in his last two cards at once, withdrawing Sanneh and Abuya for Francis Manoah and youngster Sidney Simale.
It was Kerr’s changes which would pay dividends as his team’s forward play improved, Omondi and Kahata’s creativity on the ball giving Sharks some new problems.
In the 76th minute, Gor came close with Kahata’s freekick landing inside the six yard box from the right but Kagere’s touch was too much, the ball flying over.
However, five minutes later, Gor made it 2-1 with Guikan tapping in unmarked at the far post from a Kagere cross.
Sharks lost the ball cheaply with Mazembe, under minimal pressure letting the ball roll out of play with a heavy second touch. Wellington Ochieng took the throw quick to Kagere who slapped a low cross into the area for Guikan to tap home.
From then on, it was Gor all the way as Sharks failed to land a response. They only came close with Oluoch making a good save to deny Manoah with a low shot from the edge of the area.
The reigning league champions will only have two days of rest before facing Tusker FC at the same venue on Wednesday.