MACHAKOS, Kenya, Apr 29- Clifford Alwanga stepped off the bench to score the equalizer as Mathare United held defending champions Gor Mahia to a 2-2 draw in a top of the table Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos.
Jack Tuyisenge’s brace had put Gor Mahia clear after Francis Omondi’s opener, but a much changed second half Mathare ensured they come off two back to back losses to pick a point that sees them retain the three-point gap between them and the leaders.
This is the second consecutive 2-2 draw from the defending champions who were held to a similar score-line in midweek away to Chemelil Sugar.
A frantic two minutes saw two goals scored in either end of the pitch.
First, Mathare broke the deadlock in the 16th minute though Francis Omondi whose freekick from the edge of the box after Cliff Nyakeya was fouled went beneath the wall and beat Shabaan Odhoji.
From the restart, K’Ogalo equalized immediately this time from the penalty spot, Tuyisenge taking responsibility after he had been hacked down by David Owino.
Though Robert Mboya had a touch on the ball, the power was too much as it dropped inside the net.
Almost immediately after drawing level, Gor should have gone up when Tuyisenge’s touch off a George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo cross from the left failed to direct the ball on target with only the keeper to beat.
It was an exciting start to the match pitting the league’s top two teams.
Mathare’s tact was to sit back, soak in the pressure and hit on the counter using the pace of Cliff Nyakeya and Samuel Ndung’u on either win, but Gor had done their work right and ensured minimal balls landed on the flanks.
Gilbert Onsonga, making his first start of the season ahead of injured skipper George Owino had a torrid evening and was often caught off his guard by the dangerous Gor attack led by Tuyisenge and Meddie Kagere.
On the half hour mark, Ondonga failed to head away a freekick from Harun Shakava which landed on Humphrey Mieno’s feet, but the midfielder’s effort at swinging on a half volley on his second touch went over.
K’Ogalo went into the lead five minutes to the break through Tuyisenge who slammed the ball home after Omurwa had cleared a Kagere effort off the line.
Keeper Robert Mboya had failed to hold on to a cross from the right and Kagere picked up, dribbling past the custodian but his effort was blocked by Omurwa a few yards from goal with Mboya way off his line.
Mathare came back into the second half an improved side, partly thanks to some tactical switches made by head coach Francis Kimanzi. The error prone Onsongo was moved to right back with Olwande dropping into central defense.
Ndung’u was also brought off for Clifford Alwanga, a change that saw Chris Ochieng move out wide while Alwanga came into central attack.
The Slum Boys had two back to back chances, first David Owino’s shot from the right hitting the side netting after Chris Oduor beat Odhoji to the ball and set up his mate.
After that, Ochieng had an effort come off the bar when he raced into a delicious cross from the right with the Gor backline found sleeping.
Mathare kept exerting pressure on the league leaders and they had another chance when Omondi’s freekick this time from range was well tipped over the bar for a corner by Odhoji.
Onsonga was ultimately hauled off with natural right back Martin Ongori coming on as Kimanzi sought to rectify the pre-match error.
All this time, Gor had been pushed back by Mathare, but they had a chance off the break when substitute Samuel Onyango was played throygh by Kahata but his shot was saved by Mboya.
After surviving, Mathare exerted the pressure and Alwanga drew the sides level with a one time finish inside the box off an Ongori cross.
This had come just a minute after keeper Odhoji had made a brilliant save to parry away an effort from Edward Seda.