SportPesa Kenya Premier League (KPL) leaders Bandari FC hopes of moving to the summit suffered a major blow after they were beaten 2-1 by their hosts Ulinzi Stars in a thrilling clash staged at the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Sunday.
The soldiers started the match with vigour and confidence pushing their visitors to their territory. Their pressure paid dividends after 36 minutes through Enosh Ochieng who converted from the spot to make his scoring tally to nine.
Ulinzi’s Ezekiel Okari dribbled past a forest of defenders inside the box and as he was preparing to fire home, he was brought down by Bandari’s Nicholas Meja prompting referee Anthony Ogwayo to point to the spot where Ochieng made no mistake to plant the ball home past Goalkeeper Farouk Shikalo.
Encouraged, the Nakuru soldiers went for the kill but Bandari players resorted to packing their defence to avoid conceding another goal. Taking the resultant spot kick Enosh Ochieng sent Bandari custodian Farouk Shikhalo diving the wrong side.
Sensing danger, Bandari made three changes introducing Dairus Musaga, David King’atua and Brian Otieno for the tired Nicholas Meja, Daniel Otieno and Michael Luvutsi.
Ulinzi goal survived a narrow scare in the 69th minute when King’atua’s stunning free kick some 30 meters away from the goal bounced off goalkeepers James Saruni hands before Yema Mohammed pounced on the rebound to complete with a powerful shot that saw him register his fifth goal of the season.
Hassan Abdallah should have doubled the score for the dockers in the 75th minute, but his rasping shot at the edge of the box flew over the bar.
Three minutes later, Okari who was undoubtedly the man-of-the match blasted wide in front of the goal as the goal hungry soldiers pushed forward for the winning goal.
After 39 minutes, Okari atoned for this miss when he capitalised on a goalmouth confusion to stab the ball into the empty net.
Still unsettled, Ulinzi’s head coach Dunston Nyaudo made two changes in the dying moments of the game recalling Elvis Nandwa and Okari and brought in Bora Afya who is a former Bandari player and Bernard Ongoma.
Nevertheless, Bandari Team manager Wilson Obungu said that the defeat is a big lesson even as they fight to grab their first league title.
“The defeat is a small setback. We are not giving up the race. Still we have a chance since the second leg has not started. We hope to amend the mistakes we made and return back to our winning ways,” said Obungu.
In other matches played on Sunday, Vihiga United beat Zoo Kericho 2-1, while KCB recorded a 2-0 win over Nzoia Sugar in the only other SportPesa Premier League match staged in Machakos.
Weekend Results: Ulinzi Stars 2-1 Bandari, Vihiga United 2-1 Zoo Kericho
KCB 2-0 Nzoia United.
Saturday – Mathare United 0-0 Western Stima,Sony Sugar 1-0 Mt.Kenya, Tusker 1-2 AFC Leopards, Chemelil Sugar 0-3 Sofapaka, Posta Rangers 0-0 Kariobangi Sharks.
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