NAIROBI, Kenya, May 27 – AFC Leopards moved second in the BetKing Premier League standings after beating Mathare United 1-0 at the Ruaraka Complex on Thursday evening.
The victory from their single game in hand saw the title chasing Ingwe move to 36 points, same as leaders KCB but with an inferior goal difference.
Both sides finished the match with 10 men.
Mathare had to play the final 12 minutes of the match with 10 men after skipper David Ochieng was red carded for an apparent elbow on Ingwe’s goal scorer Elvis Rupia.
AFC’s Collins Shichenje was sent off for a second yellow card in added time.
Rupia’s 12th goal of the season got Leopards into the lead in the seventh minute when he rifled a shot home from the edge of the box on the half turn.
Leopards were rewarded for a strong start to the game, having forced Mathare to play in their own half in the opening exchanges. Caleb Olilo had threatened early for Ingwe, with a shot from range which keeper Job Ochieng spilled.
The relegation threatened Mathare were living on the edge and they would have conceded a second just four minutes after going one down when Hansel Ochieng sliced in a cross from the right, but Rupia headed over.
The Slum Boys were saved by the upright in the 16th minute when Robinson Kamura flicked over a corner from Austin Odhiambo, but Clyde Senaji’s connecting effort came off the bar with the Mathare backline caught in sixes and sevens.
On the half hour mark, Mathare were lucky to remain just one down again, this time Fabrice Mugheni’s swerving shot being pushed away by Ochieng.
Mathare were struggling to keep their feet on the game and AFC keeper Benjamin Ochan remained untested throughout the opening half. They were playing cross balls from midfield to the wings, with John Mwangi being guilty misusing several enticing balls with his poor first touch.
Three minutes to the break he should have done better when keeper Ochan missed a cross from Danson Kago, but the lanky forward could only head the ball over.
In the second half, Mathare started off with changes, Mwangi and Klinsman Omulanga coming off for Khaleed Jumaan and Eugene Wethuli.
The Slum Boys were better, played with more urgency, but once again couldn’t make the chances count.
They would have had their charge snapped by Leopards in the 62nd minute when off a counter attack, Rupia sent Hansel through on goal, but the winger couldn’t keep his eyes on the ball, missing his control with only the keeper at his mercy.
Two minutes later, Leopards had another chance handed to them on a silver platter when keeper Ochieng spilled a cross into Austin Odhiambo’s feet but his shot was blocked by David ‘Cheche’Ochieng.
The rebound fell on Rupia’s path, but his shot was also saved.
Mathare kept pushing and substitute Wethuli had a chance when he twisted and turned away from his markers from the edge of the area, but his shot hit the side netting.
On the other end, keeper Ochieng made a brilliant one handed save, tipping over Collins Shichenje’s header from a Hansel cross.
Mathare’s day was to go from bad to worse when defensive kingpin and skipper Ochieng was sent off with 12 minutes remaining for an apparent elbow on Rupia, whom he had been man-marking all game.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Mathare kept surging, but couldn’t get the goal to take them level and grab a point off the tie.