NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 20 – Gor Mahia’s hope of scaling to the top of the Kenyan Premier League was halted after being pegged back with a 1-1 draw by visiting Western Stima at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Wednesday evening.
Gor were leading 1-0 via a first half goal from Ernest Wendo, but a howler from keeper Fredrick Odhiambo early in the second half saw Stima get back into the game via Vincent Odongo.
The former Mathare United man took a speculative shot from almost 40 yards out and Odhiambo went down too early, the ball taking an awkward dip right infront of his face and bouncing into the net.
On the balance of chances especially in the first half though, the reigning champions should have gone back to the dressing at least three up with the chances they squandered.
K’Ogalo got their goal, in the 26th minute, from the unlikeliest of scorers. Wendo raced in to the far post to connect to a Samuel Onyango well weighted freekick from the right.
He had shown his hunger for goal just a few minutes before he shook the net making a decent diagonal run behind the defense to a Lawrence Juma pass, but his lack of pace let him down as the defense quickly shut him down before he could make a decision.
Prior to that, Gor had the chances.
In the 11th minute, Luke Ochieng almost turned the ball into his own net when he tried to cut off a sharp low cross from Philemon Otieno after Dennis Oliech had missed his initial attempt at a connection.
From the resultant corner, former Stima man Geoffrey Ochieng floated in a decent ball from the right finding Oliech at the backpost, but his header was blocked away for another corner.
Stima almost shocked Gor in the 21st minute when Henry Onyango broke off the counter, but a fast rushing Joash Onyango managed to throw in a leg in time to cut off his shot inside the box with the Stima forward left sprawling on the ground asking for a penalty.
On the other end, Oliech tried his luck with a first time shot from the edge of the box, but it was blocked for yet another corner.
Gor finally tasted the net in the 26th minute Wendo surprising even himself with a goal.
Oliech should have doubled the tally three minutes later when a cheeky chipped ball from Lawrence Juma found him inside the box unmarked, but his attempt at lifting the ball over an advancing Samuel Onyango was too much as the ball went over the bar.
Gor were forced into a sub five minutes to the break when Joash Onyango went off injured after coming off the worst from an Onyango challenge. He was replaced by Joachim Oluoch.
The incoming defender almost gifted Stima a way back when he lost possession inside the box, but Philemon threw his body on the ground to block a shot from Maurice Ojwang turning the ball behind for a corner.
Oktay began the second half with changes, Onyango coming off for Boniface Omondi with Gor needing a fresh pair of legs up the field.
But, the holders were stunned just seven minutes into the half when Odongo’s shot evaded keeper Odhiambo. Just a minute before that, Ojwang’s shot from distance missed the target by a whisker, Stima showing the early danger signs.
With a goal down, Oktay swung in his final change, bringing Nicholas Kipkurui for George Odhiambo in a bid to refresh the attack and try search for a winner.
But, Stima played without fear and the introduction of the former Gor duo of Herbert Kopany and Baron Oketch spiced up things for the Kisumu based side.
Within few minutes of coming on, Oketch won a freekick at the edge of the box after being hauled down by Charles Momanyi off a counter attack.
However, the former K’Ogalo winger struck his effort straight at the wall.
On the other end, Gor threw everything at attack, but could not find a way past the defense. They dodged a bullet on the other end in added time when Kennedy Otieno failed to beat Odhiambo one on one when he raced to a through pass.