MACHAKOS, Kenya, Feb 28- Ivorian striker Ephraim Guikan had perhaps what could be ranked as the miss of the season as Kenyan Premier League holders Gor Mahia was held to a 0-0 draw by Tusker FC at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Wednesday.
Guikan had the goalmouth at his mercy from four yards out with 15 minutes left on the clock but somehow failed to hit the target slamming the ball into the crossbar when it was harder to miss than score.
The result sees K’Ogalo move to 10 points, same as Mathare United who have however, scored fewer goals compared to the record 16-time KPL champions.
Once again, with the CAF Champions League in the horizon, Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr rung changes from the team that won 2-1 against Kariobangi Sharks on Sunday.
He also changed his system, dropping to a 3-5-2 formation with Humphrey Mieno and Cersidy Okeyo both starting against their former employers partnering in midfield.
Joachim Oluoch and Charles Momanyi were both drafted into the starting team as well, joining Harun Shakava in the three-man defense while Innocent Wafula plied the right wingback position.
Youngster Eliud Loukwam signed straight from school at the beginning of the season was handed his debut for Gor, starting up as the point-man in attack alongside Ephraim Guikan.
Tusker had the first two chances of the game, first, former boy Timothy Otieno trying to pick out Boniface Oluoch off his line with a dipping effort which went wide before Boniface Muchiri headed wide from a Robert Achema cross.
In the sixth minute, a quick one-two change of passes at the top of the box between Loukwam and Lawrence Juma saw Wafula pick out the ball, but he had a heavy touch as he strode into the box with keeper Boniface Oluoch coming off to collect.
Gor came very close to opening the scoring in the 14th minute when Momanyi rose decently to meet a Juma cross, but the ball evaded the target by a whisker.
Four minutes later, Loukwam had a brilliant opportunity to mark his debut with a goal, but he over-cooked the meal.
Another one-two touch of passes saw Guikan set up Loukwam, but the youngster tried too many touches on the ball when he should have just tapped home one-time, his final effort being deflected for a corner.
The frantic start however fizzled off as the pace of the game died down, each side playing cautiously. Tusker were sitting back and hoping to hit on the counter using the pace of their front three of Muchiri, Achema and Amos Asembeka.
They should have punished Gor with 10 minutes left to half time after Momanyi lost the ball cheaply on the left. Otieno took up the gift, steamed forward to pick out Asembeka whose shot on the weaker left foot went inches over the bar.
At the stroke of half time, Otieno had an opportunity to hit his former employers, but he headed over from a good position after being picked out by a Muchiri cross.
In the second half, both coaches sought to shuffle their cards with Timbe pulling out Achema for Mathew Odongo while Kerr brought in Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi for Wafula. Later, the tactician also pulled out Liukwam for Meddie Kagere.
However, the pace of the game couldn’t pick up until the final 15 minutes.
In the 75th minute of the game, a swift counter attack saw Kagere spring with the ball upfield from the left before picking out Guikan’s run, the Ivorian facing veteran Duncan Ochieng one on one.
Ochieng managed to block Guikan’s effort superbly with the forward managing to get a second bite of the cherry when the ball rebounded off the keeper. However, he slammed the ball on the crossbar with an open goalmouth.
Seven minutes to go, Gor Mahia almost paid for that blunder but Momanyi cleared off the line when Jackson Macharia’s header skipped over Boniface Oluoch.