NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Goals in either half from Johnston Omurwa and James Kinyanjui saw Mathare United retain their unbeaten start to the 2018/2019 Kenyan Premier League season after seeing off Tusker FC 2-1 at the Ruaraka Complex on Saturday evening.
Peter Nzuki scored Tusker’s lone goal with 12 minutes left to give Tusker some hope of a comeback, but Mathare defended resolutely to guard the three points and move to 17 points on top of the standings.
Both teams came into the mid-afternoon kick off with their own pedigree of pride, Tusker winning their last four games on the trot while league leaders Mathare had not lost in six matches, winning four and drawing twice.
After a cagy opening few minutes, Mathare opened up the first opportunity of the game, James Kinyanjui rushing to a ball on the right before cutting back to Chris Onyango who was rushing to the edge of the box.
However, the skipper’s attempt at a first time shot was awry, his technique application not coming off as intended with the irregular playing surface, making the ball take an awkward bounce as he prepared to pull the trigger.
Tusker were attacking using width, floating the ball on either end of the pitch hoping to cut in a dangerous cross, but David Owino on the left and James Situma on the right ensured that never happened.
Mathare were gifted for their bright start after 22 minutes when central defender Johnstone Omurwa scored his first goal of the season with a centre forward’s finish inside the box.
A training ground freekick routine saw Kevin Kimani cut back the ball from the right which was met by Cliff Nyakeya, but the midfielder miscued his shot.
The ball fell kindly on Omurwa inside the box with the centre back turning it into the net with a wonderfully taken shot.
Conceding, Tusker bounced their heads back into the game and piled pressure looking for an equalizer.
They thought they had done that half an hour into the game when Timothy Otieno’s header off a Rodgers Aloro cross bounced off the inside of the crossbar, but Otieno’s celebrations thinking the ball had crossed the line were thwarted with the first assistant ref breaking his heart.
Mathare who have just conceded three goals this season employed a high defensive line and Tusker oft fell for it, being caught offside time and again.
In the second half, Mathare kept their front feet and nine minuets after the restart, they almost went two up when Chris Onyango put pressure on Lloyd Wahome forcing him to lose the ball, Kinyanjui picking it but his shot was saved by the Tusker goalie.
But there was no stopping the flamboyant winger in the 68th minute, a defensive error seeing him bolt a thunderous shot from inside the box.
Sammy Mejja’s decision to head away a cross exactly in the same direction it came from proved costly as the ball kindly fell on Kinyanjui who rifled past the keeper to put up a two-goal cushion.
Tusker however grabbed one back 12 minutes to time, Mejja atoning for his blunder providing the freekick that was nodded home by Nzuki unmarked at the back post.
With hopes of a comeback, Tusker pressed but were almost caught off guard with the ball landing on Chris Ochieng on the other end, but his shot was well saved by the Tusker shot stopper.