MACHAKOS, Kenya, Feb 7 – John Avire’s tap at the near post 12 minutes into the second half was enough to hand Sofapaka a 1-0 victory over a hard fighting Nzoia Sugar at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos on Thursday afternoon.
The victory, Sofapaka’s fourth in the last five matches took them to 20 points in the standings, five behind leaders Mathare United.
Nzoia had a chance to draw level and probably pick a point off the match but Hansel Ochieng saw his 64th minute penalty come off the crossbar.
While Nzoia missed the golden chance from the spot, Sofapaka should have won the game by a bigger margin had they been better in converting the chances that came their way in the final quarter of the game.
In the 74th minute, Waruru’s glancing header off a Brian Magonya corner came off the upright and the rebound fell on Umaru Kassumba, but the Ugandan’s shot was blocked by a forest of bodies on the Nzoia goalline.
Almost immediately, Kassumba was accorded with another chance when Magonya’s cross from the right landed on him kindly after the first defender missed his clearance, but the forward skied his effort wide with only keeper Brian Mangala to beat.
The second half had exploded into an attacking spectacle, with the first half having been a tightly contested affair with few chances and far in between.
The best opportunity of the opening half fell on Cliff Kasuti who was sent through by a first time long ball from keeper Justin Ndikumana, but his effort with a volley was awry.
Sofapaka’s other chances came off set pieces with Avire and Justin Mico seeing their efforts go wild.
In the second half though, the game came to life. Sofapaka made changes, Mico and Kasuti paving way for Waruru and Ibrahim Kitawi.
Nzoia, in their usual fast paced style took Sofapaka by their horns and they came close to opening the scoring just two minutes into the half but Ochieng saw his point blank header off a Collins Wakhungu cross go wide.
They were made to pay 10 minutes later when Waruru won the ball off a half hearted clearance on the left, waded into the box and cut back for Avira who just took a little touch of the ball to score his fourth of the season.
Nzoia were handed a way back five minutes after going down when Magonya was adjudged to have hacked down Wakhungu inside the box, but Ochieng who took the resultant penalty rocked the crossbar to ensure keeper Ndikumana keeps his fourth clean sheet of the campaign.
Having dodged the bullet, Sofapaka tried hunting for a second goal to make it comfortable, but Kassumba missed the golden chances.
Nzoia hunted for the equalizer in the remaining 10 minutes of the game, dumping balls inside the Sofapaka box but the 2009 league champions defended with precision.