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Substitutes impact sends Gor to KPL summit

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Gor Mahia players celebrate one of their five goals against Thika United during a Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 22, 2018. PHOTO/Courtesy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 22- Samuel Onyango, Meddie Kagere and Francis Kahata stepped off the bench to score as Gor Mahia regained their spot on top of the Kenyan Premier League standings with a 5-2 win over Thika United at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Sunday.

The game had been tied at 2-2 before Onyango scored the third for Gor in the 74th minute then Kagere took a well taken goal off a counter in the 89th minute. However the cream of the afternoon was left for Kahata who sublimely lifted the ball over Allan Owiny two minutes later for Gor’s fifth.

The win saw Gor Mahia move to 25 points, two ahead of second placed Mathare United who lost 1-0 to Wazito on Saturday. K’Ogalo have three matches at hand due to their participation in the CAF Confederations Cup.

It was a happy ending for Gor with their afternoon having started off with three of their fans perishing in an accident as they travelled to Machakos to cheer on the team. The fans were allegedly precariously hanging on a bus before they toppled off after the vehicle came into contact with another saloon car.

On the field, Gor almost paid for some bit of laxity with Thika taking control with a 2-1 lead on the hour mark, but keeper Allan Owiny took the glimmer off teammates Masakidi Mata’s beauty of a freekick after pushing Jacques Tuyisenge’s shot into his own net four minutes later.

Gor Mahia debutant Raphael Asudi tries to dribble past Thika United duo of Baraka Badi and Sosthenes Idah during a Kenyan Premier League match at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 22, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Gor Mahia ended the opening half with a collective huge sigh of relief, Ephraim Guikan drawing them level with a well taken first time effort after a sleek through pass from Tuyisenge that split the defense.

The visitors had gone ahead early in the fourth minute when Eugene Mukangala curled a well taken shot past Shabaan Odhoji who was starting ahead of the rested Boniface Oluoch.

Gor Mahia had lost the ball in midfield and when Mukangula was played through, he set himself up with the first touch before taking a shot.

Thika had started the match swift with Gor Mahia yet to settle in and after going ahead, they should have added a second when Baraka Badi’s low cross from the right landed on Edmond Adem’s path, but the forward miscued his shot.

Gor Mahia skipper Harun Shakava beats Thika United’s Edmond Adem to the ball during a Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 22, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Despite the slippery conditions of the pitch, Gor Mahia started growing into the game and had a chance with a freekick from the edge of the box on the quarter hour mark but Tuyisenge curled the effort over.

K’Ogalo continued to raid Thika as they searched for the equalizer and in the 23rd minute, Tuyisenge accidentally blocked what looked like a goal bound shot from Lawrence Juma who had taken a shot from a Guikan cutback.

They came closest on the half hour mark when skipper Harun Shakava’s shot from inside the box came against the crossbar after being put through by debutant Raphael Sudi who had dribbled past a forest of legs at the edge of the box.

Four minutes from the break, Innocent Wafula charged down from the right and managed to slap in a low cross, but the ball could only go straight into Allan Owiny’s arms with Guikan salivating at the edge of the six yard box.

Gor’s pressure finally bore fruit two minutes to the break when Guikan found the back of the net, Sammy Mejja playing him on side and the Ivorian racing to a Tuyisenge through pass before beating Owiny.

Gor Mahia’s Kevin Omondi attempts to make a shot under pressure Thika United’s Eugene Mukangala during Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on April 22, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Thika were forced into a change at the stroke of half time when Adem was forced out injured with a muscle strain and his place taken by Hansel Ochieng.

In the second half, Thika came back with pace again and eight minutes after the restart, Mukangula’s header from a Mata cross went inches over the bar.

However, seven minutes later, Mata was wheeling away in celebration after curling a sublime freekick over the wall, the ball bumping in the inside of the post on its way into the net with keeper Odhoji left dumbfounded.

But the lead only lasted three minutes as keeper Owiny’s hilarious howler brought Gor back into the game. The keeper first rushed out to cut off an onrushing Tuyisenge but missed the ball completely.

As if that was not enough, Tuyisenge’s shot was blocked by Franko Bala, but the keeper rushing back to his line pushed the ball into his own net as he attempted to tip it over.

Gor struck the winner in the 74th minute when Innocent Wafula lifted the ball over Owiny on the left and on onrushing Onyango side footed it home unmarked from the right.

Kagere then put the game beyond Thika United the job barely 10 minutes after coming on, racing on to a through pass from Kahata before calmly finishing past Owiny.

But the best was saved for last as Kahata put the icing on the cake in sublime fashion, noticing keeper Owiny off his line before defly chipping the ball into the net.

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