MACHAKOS, Kenya, Feb 27 – In a match characterized by plenty of drama on and off the field, 10-man Gor Mahia hit Tusker FC 1-0 at the Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos to move second in the Kenyan Premier League standing on Wednesday.
Gor had to play over an hour of the game with 10 men after Tusker protested K’Ogalo’s goal saying it did not cross the line while they were up in arms over one of their own disallowed with 10 minutes to go.
The defending champions were reduced to 10 men just 23 minutes into the game when goal keeper Boniface Oluoch was issued with a straight red card after lunging into Timothy Otieno as the last line of defense, injuring himself also in the process.
Gor head coach Hassan Oktay had to make some sacrifices and George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo who had been drafted in place of Francis Kahata was pulled out for second choice keeper Shabaan Odhoji, a change that didn’t go down well with the winger who walked out with a disappointed face.
Prior to the red card, Gor who, save for Odhiambo, fielded the same team that played Algeria’s Hussein Dey in Sunday’s CAF Confederation Cup fixture had dodged the bullet twice.
In the second minute, Paul Kamau had what perhaps will rank highly as the miss of the season when he slammed the ball against the crossbar from a yard out when it was hardest to miss than score.
David Juma had raced to the ball on the left before squaring back to Kamau who had the simplest task of tapping into an empty net with Oluoch off his line.
In the 10th minute, Harun Shakava made a brilliant block to deny Otieno who had taken a shot after Eric Ambunya had beaten Oluoch to the ball on the right.
Gor had their first effort at goal after 20 minutes and it was a brilliant effort, Shafik Batambuze’s freekick from 20 yards out forcing a brilliant full stretched save from Tusker custodian Emery Mvuyekure.
Odhoji was called into work immediately he came on and he had to watch out a freekick from the edge of the box, awarded from Oluoch’s lunge at Otieno. The keeper made a good save going low to his left to parry away Otieno’s effort.
Despite their numerical advantage, Gor put pressure on Tusker, playing with a high line of defense defender Shakava stepping as high as the midway line.
They should have gone ahead five minutes to the break when Jacques Tuyisenge sent Samuel Onyango through, but the winger’s effort came against the crossbar and the effort at laying the ball back with a cross was collected by Mvuyekure.
Gor kept their press in the second half and seven minutes in, Tuyisenge came close when his header off a Muguna cross was spilled by the Tusker goalie, but Marlon Tangauzi was at hand to clear the mess.
Four minutes later, the defending champions were ahead. Kipkurui raced to glance in an Onyango header in the midst of a forest of defenders.
However, the Tusker players protested vehemently saying the ball did not cross the line but after almost four minutes, referee Caroline Wanjala stood by her decision.
Immediately coach Robert Matano made a change, Kevin Omondi coming off for Boniface Muchiri.
But it was Gor who should have doubled their tally in the 63rd minute when Onyango was sent through on goal by Kipkurui but the winger mysteriously placed the ball wide one on one with Mvuyekure.
On the other end, Odhoji was called into a save at his near post putting a strong hand to block a shot from Muchiri who had picked up a cut back from Jackson Macharia.
Again, Gor had a brilliant opportunity to put the game into a comfortable distance and this time, it was Tuyisenge who had a carbon copy of Onyango’s chance.
Kipkurui sent the Rwandese striker through on goal, but once again, just like his mate Onyango skied the ball.
A minute later, Mvuyekure was called into a brilliant save parrying the ball away from a Charles Momanyi header off an Onyango corner.
Ten minutes to go, Tusker thought they had clawed back a point from the game when substitute Bill Oporia headed home at the back post from a Muchiri corner, but the referee cancelled out the goal citing a foul on the keeper, drawing another furious reaction from Tusker players.