MACHAKOS, Kenya, Mar 11- Captain of the day Kevin ‘Ade’ Omondi struck the only goal of the match as a second string Gor Mahia side created a five-point gap on top of the Kenyan Premier League standings with a 1-0 win over Nzoia Sugar in Machakos on Sunday.
Gor would have wound up the game at 2-0, but Wesley Onguso’s re-taken second half penalty was saved by keeper Benson Mangala with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The reigning champions ensured they remain unbeaten this season after six matches, moving to 16 points after five wins and a draw.
Gor Mahia boss Dylan Kerr once again stood by his word to rotate his squad, basing they played a tough CAF Champions League tie against Esperance on Wednesday and the return leg beckoning next weekend.
From the team that played against the Tunisian giants, Only Joachim Oluoch retained his place in the starting team, but he was pulled in centrally to partner Charles Momanyi in defense. Omondi was handed the skipper’s armband and the play-making role just behind main striker Ephraim Guikan.
Midfielder Bernard Ondieki was fielded in an unfamiliar right back role with Lawrence Juma parading in midfield against his former employers, partnering Cersidy Okeyo.
Nzoia came into the match knowing they stood a chance against Gor’s hugely rotated squad but their biggest undoing was that they were to quick in going forward and their decision making wasn’t the best.
Gor had the first chance of the game after eight minutes and it sure was a decent one, Guikan finding some shooting space on the left but his ferocious shot came off the crossbar and was scrambled off for a corner by Nzoia.
Shabaan Odhoji starting in goal for K’Ogalo ahead of the rested Boniface Oluoch proved why he is a contender for the number one gloves at the club with a great point blank save to deny Elvis Rupia at point blank after the forward had raced to meet a George Mutimba cross from the right.
Nzoia were grown in confidence especially after winning many balls off Gor in the middle of the pack.
David Odhiambo had two back to back decent chances for Nzoia, first in the 35th minute cutting into his favorite left foot from the right side, slicing in a decent rocket from almost 30 yards out but it went over.
Two minutes later, he forced an uncomfortable save off Odhoji with a shot from distance in the 35th minute after he noticed the keeper metres off his line.
For their missed chances, the Bungoma-based club paid the ultimate price.
Skipper of the day Omondi broke the deadlock four minutes to the break with a brilliant first time curling effort after Boniface Omondi had created some space on the right before laying the ball for his skipper to slam home.
In the second half, the attacking flow of each side didn’t stop. Nzoia had an opportunity with a shot from distance but it went wide five minutes after the restart.
Nzoia almost had the ball in their own net in the 56th minute when Festus Okiring slapped the ball into his own crossbar in an attempt to clear away a cross from former teammate Boniface Omondi.
Twenty minutes later, Gor should have been two up when Guikan picked up a long ball from Oluoch, rounded keeper Benson Mangala but Vincent Ngesa made a superb sliding block a few inches off the line.
But as the game picked up, Nzoia grew in confidence and with Morven Otinya being introduced in attack, they played with two target men to increase their chances.
Otinya came close to making it 1-1 when he broke into the box but his ferocious shot came off the crossbar with Odhoji well beaten.
Otinya turned immediately to a villain, giving the ball away cheaply to substitute Eliud Loukwam.
The 19-year old used his pace to break into the box and as he attempted to skip over Ngesa in defense, he was hacked down and referee Peter Waweru pointed straight to the spot, a decision the Nzoia players protested.
Wesley Onguso stepped up to take the resultant spot kick and though he scored on the first attempt, he was forced t retake after the ref whistled with a Gor player stepping into the box. On the second bite of the cherry however, Mangala saved.
With light showers hitting the ground, Nzoia attempted to use the slippery pitch to their advantage lobbying the balls forward, but Gor kept their shape in defense.