NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 29 – Samuel Onyango stepped off the bench to score the winner against his former employers four minutes from time as Gor Mahia beat Ulinzi Stars 2-1 at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru to move nine points clear on top of the Kenyan Premier League table.
Enosh Ochieng had given Ulinzi Stars the equalizer with his 15th goal of the season after Erisa Ssekisambu had scored 24 seconds into the match, but Gor ensured they picked maximum points with a goal off a counter attack.
With the result, Gor moved to 58 points with one match at hand, nine ahead of second placed Sofapaka who dropped points with a 2-2 draw against Mathare United in Machakos yesterday.
From Nakuru, Gor Mahia will travel to Kisumu where they are scheduled to play three games within six days starting with Thursday against KCB.
Coming into the Ulinzi tie, Gor Mahia head coach Hassan Oktay made changes to his squad resting regulars Harun Shakava, Philemon Otieno, Francis Kahata, Jacques Tuyisenge and Kenneth Muguna with the tough list of fixtures awaiting.
They needed just 24 seconds on the clock to break the deadlock, Ssekisambu heading home inside the six yard box after throwing his body in the way of a Francis Mustafa cross from the right.
It was a brilliant start by Gor and especially to calm their nerves on a rainy afternoon in Nakuru. Mustafa almost grabbed one himself after 14 minutes when he tried off a shot from range with his weaker left foot but the effort sailed wide.
Ulinzi were not taking it lying down and they had chances of their own. A brilliant low cross from Brian Birgen destined for Ochieng inside the box was cut out by Joachim Oluoch with Joash Onyango clearing the ball away.
Oscar Wamalwa also had a header from the edge of the six yard box sail straight to keeper Shabaan Odhoji’s arms off a Harun Mwale freekick.
Gor Mahia’s new midfield acquisition Hashim Ssempala tried his effort with a shot from range in the 26th minute but the effort after being teed up by Boniface Omondi went inches over the bar.
-Shots from range
The Ugandan midfielder continued with his forays upfront playing an advanced midfield role and he kept knocking in the second half with three shots, one off a freekick all sailing into keeper James Saruni’s arms.
Gor made the match defining change, Onyango coming on for Omondi after 63 minutes.
But it was Ulinzi who would score next with Enosh stretching his right foot to score after Boniface Onyango had headed a John Njuguna cross across the face of goal.
Gor made changes, Dennis Oliech coming on for Kipkurui as they sought a winning goal.
It was Ulinzi who came closest when Mwale’s bouncing header off another Njuguna set piece sailed inches over the bar from close range.
It was from the ensuing counter attack that Gor scored the winner. Keeper Odhoji started the goal-kick long to Oliech who flicked it on for Onyango to score with only Saruni to beat.