Mathare United halted their five match losing streak with a hard fought barren draw against AFC Leopards in a Round 14 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match played at the Nyayo Stadium on Saturday 17 June.
Both sides had settled for identical one all draws over two legs in the past campaign and much of the pre-match talk bordered around the hosts handing newly appointed coach Dorian Marin a win on his touchline debut.
The Romanian, fresh from a disappointing 3-0 defeat at the hands of Gor Mahia in the Sportpesa Super Cup, tinkered with his line up preferring to field a flat back four with Mathare United old boy Robinson Kamura at the heart of his defence.
His opposite number Francis Kimanzi made two changes to his first eleven with new signing Samuel Olwande slotting in at left back while Roy Okal was handed an anchor role at the middle of the park allowing skipper George Owino to return to central defence.
Owino was handed the task of manning the speedy Vincent Oburu and the youngster proved a handful in the opening quarter. In the tenth minute, he beat the offside trap to beat his marker for pace before side stepping an onrushing Wycliffe Kasaya. With the only thing remaining being a simple tap in into an empty net, Martin Ongori’s last ditch intervention saw save Mathare United from falling behind early on.
Then on the other end, David Owino sought a reply for Mathare United but he could not keep his shot low. A scrappy period of play ensued thereafter before Kasaya almost gifted Ingwe the lead. His miscued clearance was intercepted by Oburu who delayed to pull the trigger allowing Kasaya to recover and pull off a brave save. Moments later, Olwande came to our rescue as he showed great timing to dispossess Ghanaian Gilbert Fiamenyo as he teed himself up for a shot on goal.
With both sides having settled into the game, a glut of missed chances characterized the closing quarter with Oburu once again culpable of shooting wide after being played through by Fiamenyo. Mathare United’s top scorer almost extended his tally in the dying minutes of the half after he connected well to Daniel Mwaura’s low cross but he watched in disbelief as Ian Otieno showed great reflexes to palm his shot to safety.
The second half started on a somber note for us as Wycliffe Kasaya was replaced by Levis Opiyo. Opiyo’s first touch was to gather a Leopards’ corner from the right following yet another timely interception by Olwande to deny Harun Nyakha a sight of goal.
Musa Mudde, introduced in the first half for Andrew Tololwa, was beginning to make his impact felt in the match and his impeccable vision almost provided the breakthrough. He sent Samuel Ndung’u, a second half substitution, feinting down the left flank. He did well to slalom his way towards the byline leaving Ongori in his wake before finding Oburu with a clever cutback. However the scoring boots were missing for Oburu as he blazed his effort from close range.
Oburu was a having a day to forget and two minutes past the hour mark he was denied his first league goal by Opiyo who came off his line to save brilliantly at his feet in a one on one situation. Keen on adding more attacking punch, Kimanzi sent Harrison Mwendwa to the fray at the expense of David Owino and moments later Lennox Ogutu almost got the breakthrough.
The budding center half climbed high to connect to Mwaura’s delivery from a corner with a solid header which squirmed over the bar. With the game still level, Tyson Otieno was introduced for the injured Alphonce Ndonye and Marin replied sending Marcelus Ingotsi in for Nyakha.
Both changes set up anervy ending to the game as Mathare United had a penalty appeal turned down in the 80th minute when Mwaura was brought down in the box by Joshua Mawira. On the other end, Ingotsi won a freekick in a prime position after beating Owino for pace down the right flank. Kamura stepped up to take the resultant freekick that was prodded narrowly off target by Duncan Otieno.
A moment of individual brilliance from Mwendwa almost handed us the winner late on. Opiyo found Mwendwa on the left with an accurate drop ball. The Kenyan international showed quick feet to escape the attention of Dennis Sikhayi before cutting back into his favorite right boot. However he took an age to shoot before hurriedly sending his shot over the bar.
The result leaves Mathare United still bottom of the table with an improved tally of 10 points. League action continues on Sunday 2 July with a trip to Zoo Kericho.
Starting XI: Wycliffe Kasaya (Levis Opiyo 46’ )(GK), Samuel Olwande, Martin Ongori, George Owino (C), Lennox Ogutu, Roy Okal, Chrispin Oduor, Alphonce Ndonye (Tyson Otieno 77’), Daniel Mwaura, David Owino (Harrison Mwendwa 65’ ), Chris Ochieng’
Unused subs: Andrew Juma, Abubakar Keya, John Mwangi, Elijah Mwanzia