League leaders AFC Leopards maintained their unbeaten run in the Kenyan Premier League with a hard fought 2-1 victory against tough Thika United at Thika Municipal Stadium.
Victor Ochieng gave Leopards the lead in the 20th minute that was cancelled by Moses Arita eight minutes later before goal-poacher Mike Baraza added the second in the 32nd minute.
The win extended Leopards lead on the league table to six points ahead of second placed Sofapaka - who face Gor Mahia today - while stretching their remarkable unbeaten run in the competition to 23 game.
The duel had built up into a battle of the emerging title contenders with Thika United, unbeaten in their last eight outings, loudly proclaiming they will break Leopards unbeaten run.
This may have been the catalyst that drew out the stubborn will to win for Leopards on this day.
“Thika came to the match talking about winning even before we had played. We knew what we had to do and were only afraid of the poor pitch,” Leopards captain Martin Imbalabala said after the match.
The scripts almost played out according to Thika, as they took the game to Leopards controlling the midfield and creating the early chances on a deplorable playing surface.
But against the run of play Leopards opened the scoring. Ochieng, unmarked on the edge of the box, met Bernard Mangoli’s corner to emphatically head home.
No sooner had the sea of blue on the Thika stands gone into rapture than the home side silenced them, Arita taking advantage of a mix-up in the Leopards defence to send the ball beyond Patrick Matasi.
Clearly on the ascend with the impressive Francis Kahata pulling the strings in midfield, Thika were then caught out by a devastating Leopards counter attack.
Jimmy Bageya picked the ball from his area following a fruitless corner kick by the home side to sprint half the length of the pitch before feeding the ball to the supporting Baraza for a cool finish.
The rest of the match was all Thika with Leopards resolutely defending.
Western Stima 3 Oserian 0
Western Stima now occupying sixthth position after thrashing visiting Oserian at their backyard Bukhungu Stadium.
Justus Monda scored a double while Alois Mangi claimed one goal.
Muhoroni Youth 1 Sony Sugar 0
Debutants Muhoroni Youth had a surprise 1-0 victory over seasoned Sony Sugar.
David Origi scored inthe 20th minute to push the Alfred Imonje coached newcomers from ninth to seventh on the league table with 14 points.
Sony, under former Harambee Stars tactician, Zedekiah Otieno, will feel this was not their days. They wasted two penalties, one hitting the post while the others was saved by Muhoroni keeper, Joseck Gathonge.
Rangers 0 Karuturi Sports 0
Troubled Rangers held out for a barren draw with visiting Karuturi Sports at the City Stadium to move from the bottom to 14th ahead on Gor Mahia and City Stadium who are all playing on Sunday.