NAKURU, Kenya, Dec 29 – John Avire scored for Sofapaka with seven minutes left on the clock as Sofapaka bounced back from a slump to draw 2-2 with Ulinzi Stars at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Saturday evening.
Sofapaka had gone ahead via a first half Dennis Odhiambo goal, but two quickfire goals from Enosh Ochieng saw Ulinzi grab the lead before Avire headed Sofapaka level to grab a point.
In other matches played on Saturday, defending champions Gor Mahia were stunned by Kariobangi Sharks for the second time, the holders losing by a similar 1-0 margin to the one they suffered early this month in the KPL Super Cup.
At the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, AFCF leopards’ search for a first league victory continued in vain as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Vihiga United while in the early kick off, KCB also remained winless after being blanked 3-1 by Tusker FC.
Mount Kenya United also continued in their struggle after losing 2-0 to Chemelil Sugar while in Mombasa, Bandari and Western Stima remained unbeaten after drawing 1-1.
But it was at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru where the weekend’s most intense action was left at with Ulinzi and Sofapaka clashing.
Batotoba Mungu who have won only one match this season looked a hugely improved side in the opening half of the game bossing possession and passing the ball comfortably.
Odhiambo broke the deadlock on the half hour mark with a delightful finish, a first time volley unmarked on the left when he raced to a Cliff Kasuti cross from the right which found the Ulinzi defense sleeping.
Prior to the goal, Sofapoaka had chances to score but once again, what has hampered them entire season, finishing, seems to have stuck on their backs like a tick.
After a quiet opening 10 minutes, Sofapaka knocked on the door in the 12th minute of the game when Odhiambo rose at the edge of the six yard box to link up to a Cornelius Juma cross, but the header went over.
Five minutes later, Titus Achesa clipped the upside of the crossbar with his freekick from the right curling over the wall.
The visitors had two brilliant back to back chances that should have otherwise been planted inside the net.
In the 22nd minute, Mike Oduor broke into the box from a deep cross and controlled it well with keeper James Saruni off his line. However, the midfielder could not lift the ball beyond the shot stopper. Six minutes later, Avire had a chance.
The striker off a swiftly executed counter attack broke into the box but his shot was saved by Saruni. He raced on to the rebound and appeared to have been clipped as he tried to execute a second shot but the ref waved play on.
A minute later, Stephen Waruru had a chance to claw his former employers when a cross from Elli Asieche found him at the edge of the six yard box, but he couldn’t get a strong impact on the shot.
The blushes were wiped though when Odhiambo broke the deadlock.
Five minutes to the break, Avire should have surely had a goal of his own when he broke the offside trap to race to a Kasuti cross, but his first control let him down as it took him off target and the defense raced back to cover.
Batoto ba Mungu had a flurry of chances in the opening 10 minutes of the second half, but once again, they could not hit the target with Asieche and Juma delivering dicey crosses that were not executed.
The misses seemed to have inspired Ulinzi as they began to attack more and in the 55th minute, Richard Aimo produced a brilliant one-handed save to turn behind Daniel Waweru’s freekick for a corner.
Sofapaka head coach Melis Medo then made a change, pulling out Waruru for defender Willis Ouma. With this change, Ouma slotted into right back while Kasuti moved up to right wing.
And just like it has happened in all their other previous three matches, Sofapaka conceded just after making this particular change. Enosh Ochieng scored the first of his two with a header inside the box off a cross from the left.
Four minutes later, he doubled his tally with a brilliant volley inside the box after being picked out by a Waweru corner.
The tide had suddenly changed for Batoto ba Mungu. Medo made another change bringing on youngster Telvin Omutere for his debut while he rested goal scorer Odhiambo
Sofapaka pushed in the final minutes to get their lead back and they had some hope in the 83rd minute when Avire beautifully looped a header over Saruuni.
Twice, Avire should have won the game for Sofapaka but he wasted brilliant chances. Just two minutes after scoring, he controlled a cross well at the edge of the six yard box and with two of the chasing defenders down, he failed to beat the keeper blasting the ball over.
He had another chance again when he burst into the box, but his low shot with the keeper at his mercy went wide.