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Wafula rescues Gor from the jaws of defeat

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Gor Mahia’s Meddie Kagere vies for the ball with Sofapaka’s Mousa Omar and Elly Asieche PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

MACHAKOS, Kenya, May 20- Innocent Wafula scored in the 90th minute to rescue Kenyan Premier League leaders Gor Mahia from the jaws of their first defeat of the season as they played to a 3-3 draw with Sofapaka in a high-octane fixture at the Kenyatta Stadium on Sunday evening.

Ezekiel Okare’s late brace seemed to have handed Batoto ba Mungu a huge win against direct title rivals, but Wafula struck two minutes after his side went down to rescue a point for K’Ogalo.

First half goals from Meddie Kagere and Bernard Ondiek sent K’Ogalo sailing, but a slump in the second half saw Batoto ba Mungu raise their tails wit substitute Ezekiel Okare scoring a late brace adding on to Kepha Aswani’s early first half goal.

It seemed to be three points in the bag for Sofapaka, but Wafula slammed the ball in from close range after a poorly defended corner to hand Gor a reprieve.

It was a game of two halves as the record 16-time champions utterly dominated the opening half while the 2009 champions were better in the second half dominating possession and creating most of the scoring chances.

Gor boss Dylan Kerr made seven changes from the team that played USM Alger in a midweek CAF Confederation Cup Group D tie at Kasarani with skipper Harun Shakava Boniface Oluoch and Ephraim Guikan retaining their places.

And the holders started the match with immense pace and within the first minute had the ball inside the net but Guikan’s finish off an Innocent Wafula cross was ruled out for offside.

A minute later, the speedy Boniface Omondi tried his luck with a rasping shot from distance but it elevated a few inches off target.

K’Ogalo were rewarded from their emphatic start to the match in the ninth minute when Willis Ouma’s clearance off a corner inside the box ricocheted off Meddie Kagere and bounced into an empty net.

Batoto ba Mungu should have gone level just three minutes later but Ugandan import Umaru Kassumba missed a one on one chance. A mistake from Joachim Oluoch who was defending deep saw Kassumba win the ball and stride goalward with only the keeper to beat.

However, Oluoch narrowed down the angle coming fast off his line forcing Kassumba to shoot and the effort sailed wide.

Oluoch made a brilliant save on the quarter hour mark spreading his body nicely on the ground to block Kevin Kimani who had picked the ball unmarked from an Elli Asieche cross.

Gor Mahia kept pounding keeping the fans in the stands heated despite the cold afternoon in Machakos and their hard work was once again gifted with a second goal in the 24th minute.

Yussuf Mohammed’s effort at clearing the ball away ended up in the left back heading to the edge of the six yard box finding Ondiek unmarked, the midfielder doing the easy task of glancing the ball into the net beating Mathias Kigonya who was off is line.

Three minutes after going down, Sofapaka almost scored an own goal when Mohammed’s effort at blocking a cross from Yussuf Mohammed ended up in a deflection towards his own goal but luckily the ball bounced off the upright for a corner.

Sofapaka head coach John Baraza was pushed to initiate his first change after just 27 minutes, pulling out holding midfielder Humphrey Okoti and bringing in forward Stephen Waruru.

Waruru almost got into the party immediately when he was picked out by a drop ball from Kigonya, but keeper Oluoch was faster off his line to clear the danger away.

Sofapaka were also giving in much in attack despite the fact that Gor were faster off the blocks and they had a chance in the 33rd minute when Waruru’s cross found Kimani at the edge of the box but the pint sized winger’s shot went inches over.

Kerr was forced into a change as the second half started, defender Charles Momanyi coming off clutching his thigh and was replaced by Joash Onyango.

And it was the home side which had a better start to the second set of 45 minutes, pulling one back through Aswani six minutes after the restart. Kimani picked out his team mate with an incisive through pass and Aswani made the most of it rifling a left foot shot past Oluoch.

Sofapaka’s Mousa Omar tackles Gor Mahia’s Ephraim Guikan during their Kenyan Premier League clash at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on May 20, 2018. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Aswani should have doubled his tally an brought his side back level six minutes later but he shot over from inside the box after being picked out by a cut back from Kassumba who had done well to outmuscle Onyango on the right.

Sofapaka continued their upward trajectory and they came inches close on the hour mark when Waruru tried to chip the ball over Oluoch who was advanced off his line from a counter attack but the ball kissed the upside of the crossbar.

Gor made their second change with goalscorer Ondiek who had become prone to losing the ball in the middle of the pack pulled out for the versatile Philemon Otieno.

Gor gained a bit of stability and Sofapaka keeper Kigonya was forced into a brilliant double save to keep his side in contention.

First, he poured his body out to deny Kagere one on one after the striker had raced to a through pass while his second was a beauty of a reflex, leaping to his left to parry away a diving header from Guikan off a Wesley Onguso cross.

But Batoto ba Mungu kept on fighting to get at least a draw off the match.

They were rarded in the 84th minute when Okare who had just come on for Kassumba jumped higher than both Joachim Oluoch and harun Shakava to win a header and power it past Oluoch who was off his line.

With their tails up, Sofapaka scored what looked like a possible winner when Kimani outjumped Shakava for the ball at the edge of the box feeding Okare who slammed the ball into the net with just two minutes of regular time left.

However, Gor showed the true character of a champion fighting on till the final whistle and in the first minute of added time, Wafula slammed the ball home after it was initially cleared off the line from a corner.

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