KERICHO, Kenya, Apr 2- Dennis Kitambi’s run of four consecutive wins as AFC Leopards care-taker coach was brought to a screeching halt on Monday evening after losing 4-2 to 11-time champions Tusker FC at the Kericho Stadium.
Ingwe played almost 60 minutes of the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Gabriel Andika was sent off in the first half. A brace each from Timothy Otieno and Lloyd Wahome gave Tusker their second win of the season, one that propelled them to 11th in the standings.
Leopards had a chance to go up level with arch rivals Gor Mahia at the apex of the standings, but at a time when they had increased pressure on the brewers to get a result, Wahome struck the second of his brace with 15 minutes left on the clock.
It wasn’t really the most ideal of comebacks for Andika, making his first appearance for Ingwe since their 1-1 draw with Fosa Juniors in a CAF Confederations Cup in Bukhungu on February 2.
The shot-stopper was to blame for both goals, and AFC’s numerical chop to 10 men.
Andika’s effort to clear a back pass from Mike Kibwage in the sixth minute ended in Otieno making a block that saw the ball bounce into the net.
The second, though partly his blame, was more of Robinson Kamura’s burden. The defender making a start ahead of the injured Salim Abdallah played a short back pass to Andika with Otieno intercepting, forcing the keeper to sweep him down.
He left the pitch in tears having been sent off for the challenge and behind him, left a penalty slotted home by Otieno.
After going down early in the sixth minute, AFC tried to make amends with Whyvonne Isuza trying his luck with a flying shot from distance that was however aptly collected by David Okello in the Tusker goal.
Almost immediately, skipper Duncan Otieno also attempted to draw the two sides level with a shot from the same range, but he wasn’t lucky enough, the ball flying wide.
AFC’s surge in the game was punctured off on the half hour mark with Otieno slotting the penalty after the moment of madness between Kamura and keeper Andika.
Having lost Andika to a red card, coach Kitambi had to make a sub and striker Henry Uche making a rare start for the side was sacrificed for Jairus Adira whose first order of duty was to prevent Otieno’s penalty. However, he was sent the wrong way for a 2-0 score.
With a numerical disadvantage and an uphill task of clawing back two goals, AFC Leopards doubled their effort and saw their toil bear fruit five minutes to the break when Marvin Omondi was brought down inside the box by Lloyd Wahome.
Left back Isaac Oduro stepped forward and calmly converted.
Otieno had two late chances to get the two goal cushion back for the brewers, first sending a shot over after beating Kibwage to the ball at the edge of the box while his second effort coming at the end of a counter attack saw Adira making a save.
On the other end, Baker Lukooya’s flying header went straight to Okello after the Ugandan winger sprung up to connect to an Oduro delivery from the left.
As if AFC’s day couldn’t get worse, left back Oduro limped off injured having soldiered on with a groin problem he picked up midway through the second half. He was replaced by Brian Marita as Kitambi sought an all out attack.
Tusker stretched their lead on the hour mark when an unmarked Wahome made amends for giving away the penalty, rising high to head in a cross from Peter Nzuki who had just come on for Mathew Tayo Odongo.
But, the marks that this game was set for a dramatic end were all clear when just two minutes later, Whyvonne Isuza glanced in a header unmarked from a Marita cross.
AFC piled pressure on the brewers, looking for the elusive equalizer and they almost came close when Marita’s cross found Odera at the backpost, but he couldn’t connect it on target.
In an effort to clear away, defender Justine Omary banged his body against the upright and was brought off for Eugene Asike.
Tusker stamped the victory with 15 minutes left when Wahome was quickest to react to a rebound after Adira failed to hold on to a stinging freekick from Collins Shivachi.