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Struggling Thika shock troubled Gor Mahia

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Gor Mahia’s Jacques Tuyisenge is tackled by a Thika United player during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Thika Stadium on September 16, 2018

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 16 – Gor Mahia’s lack of match fitness was clearly evident on Sunday evening as they went down by a solitary goal to relegation threatened Thika United at the Thika Sub-County Stadium, handing the home side a massive survival boost.

K’Ogalo whose players have not trained for the entire week just met up on the morning of match day and travelled to Thika, and the home side were more than willing to take advantage to pick maximum points and they did so to move to 26 points in the standings.

They however remained placed bottom, just one point behind Wazito FC whose survival hopes were dealt a hammer blow after losing 1-0 to Ulinzi Stars at the Kericho Green Stadium earlier in the afternoon.

In the other matches, Vihiga United picked a boosing point after playing to a 1-1 draw with Sony Sugar in Mumias while Chemelil on Saturday boosted their hopes with a 1-0 win over Mathare United in Awasi.

But it was at the Thika Stadium that the story of the weekend was waiting to unfold with uncertainty whether or not the striking Gor players would show up for the match. Gor have not trained whole week protesting non-payment of salaries and allowances.

“The players gave their all in this match but it was going to be difficult to prepare for this match without training,” Gor head coach Dylan Kerr lamented after the match.

Thika were under the tutelage of former Mathare Youth coach Gabriel ‘Kingi’ Njoroge who was stepping in for the first time after being called upon to save the sinking ship.

New Thika United head coach Gabriel Njoroge during their Kenyan Premier League match against Gor Mahia at the Thika Stadium on September 16, 2018

“The players warmly welcomed me from the look of training during the week, we were heading for a positive result despite playing a side that hasn’t trained, at times a team can win even without training, we had to be cautious,” Njoroge who has had stints with Mathare United and City Stars further said.

While this was only the second loss this season for Gor, Thika were in cloud nine having picked a win for the first time since May, a run that has seen them go for 11 matches without registering victory losing nine of them.

It wasn’t a classic Gor match as the players only looked to have come in to fulfil the obligations of the match and help the club avoid a possible Sh1mn fine for handing a walk over.

Golden boot chasing Jacques Tuyisenge had a chance inside 16 minutes when he was played through by Burundian Francis Mustafa, but he fired wide from close range though he had already been flagged offside.

The champions-elect had another chance off a Boniface Omondi corner, but Charles Momanyi’s connection with a header was off target.

Thika had to wait till the 21st minute to register their first meaningful effort at goal falling on Michael Odongo, but he could not beat the keeper one on one off a Zak Matasi cross.

Gor came ever so close after 35 minutes when Wellington Ochieng’s cracking shot came off the upright while Wesley Onguso wasted a glorious chance with a freekick from goal scoring range hitting it over and wide.

Gor Mahia’s Joachim Oluoch tussles for the ball with Thika United’s Zak matasi during their Kenyan Premier League match at the Thika Stadium on September 16, 2018

In the second half Kerr made changes bringing on Bernard Ondiek and Innocent Wafula for Joachim Oluoch and Samuel Onyango with Thika responding by throwing in James Kinyanjui and Richard Kang’ethe for Benson Iregi and Haji Mwachoki.

It was Thika’s changes that proved fruitful with the home side breaking the deadlock in the 62nd minute with Odongo pouncing on a lose ball after keeper Peter Odhiambo punched Michael Mutinda’s shot into his path.

Having gone down, Gor gave a fight and thought to have had a point late on but Francis Mustafa’s goal was ruled out for offside.

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