Oscar Wamalwa’s first half strike proved to be the winner in the Round 26 Kenyan Premier League match against Ulinzi Stars played at the Ruaraka Grounds on Saturday 23 September.
Head coach Francis Kimanzi made two changes to his first eleven in a bid to avenge the 1-5 mauling in the first leg as well as halt our two match losing streak. Cliff Nyakeya and Victor Ashinga replaced Ronald Reagan and Edward Seda yet it was the visitors who started brightly.
Boniface Onyango missed a glorious opportunity to set the Soldiers on the ascendancy when his free header flew off target after connecting to Daniel Waweru’s delivery from a freekick on the right.
Moments later Cliff Kasuti found himself on the end of a brilliant passing maneuver but he miscued his shot at the edge of the box. Ulinzi’s intentions to get an early goal finally bore fruit when Wamalwa beat Levis Opiyo at his near post with a glancing header from Samuel Onyango’s cross.
The lads sought a reply on the other end from a set piece situation. Derrick Nzosi delivered a sumptuous cross at the back post but Ashinga arrived late to power his diving header towards goal.
Our best chance of the half fell to Chris Ochieng’ just before the half hour mark. David Owino initiated a move on the left where he picked out Chrispin Oduor inside the box with a clever pass. Oduor then delivered a cutback into the path of Nyakeya whose attempted effort on goal turned out to be a pass for the onrushing Ochieng’ who fluffed his chance from point blank range.
Another neat passing move culminated in Oduor teeing up Ashinga for a shot outside the area but the latter blazed wide. Kimanzi withdrew Ashinga for the enterprising Tyson Otieno at the restart.
Wamalwa, who was a constant menace with his intelligent runs behind our defence, almost grabbed his second of the day shortly afterwards but he was denied by an alert Opiyo who bravely dashed off his line to clear the danger with a solid header in a one on one situation with the lanky forward.
Elijah Mwanzia came in for Chris Ochieng’ as we stepped up the pursuit for an equalizer. A rare communication error between James Saruni and Mohammed Hassana almost handed us the breakthrough but the ball rolled out of play with Nyakeya lurking.
Mwanzia, who has scored crucial goals twice from the bench in recent times, wasted another chance to continue with that statistic as his attempted lob over an advancing Saruni went over the bar.
The introduction of Martin Ongori for the jaded Nzosi was countered by Ulinzi Stars head coach Benjamin Nyangweso who sent Bernard Ongoma and Stephen Waruru to the fray as he sought to defend his slim lead.
A late surge saw two genuine penalty appeals turned down by the referee after handball incidences in the Ulinzi box. The result leaves us at 15th place on the log with 25 points.
Starting XI: 30. Levis Opiyo (GK) 16.David Owino 21. Derrick Nzosi (68’ 20.Martin Ongori) 6. George Owino (C) 23. Lennox Ogutu 22. Roy Okal 24.Victor Ashinga (46’ 27.Tyson Otieno) 29. Chrispin Oduor 9. Chris Ochieng’ (55’ 17. Elijah Mwanzia) 13. John Mwangi 17.Cliff Nyakeya
Unused subs: 1. Mark Kioko (GK) 12. Andrew Juma 15.Ronald Reagan 14.Derrick Onyango