Tusker’s surge towards the upper reaches of the league standings continued on Wednesday as the defending champions edged out a resilient but unlucky City Stars 1-0 in an entertaining match at Nairobi’s City Stadium.
Captain Joseph Shikokoti scored the only goal of the match in the 70th minute to give Tusker their first consecutive win of the season.
This was the only league engagement scheduled by KPL on Labour Day as part of an arrangement to ensure the defending champions catch up with their fixtures following their continental engagements.
The proceedings proved sufficient to entertain a capacity crowd that had assembled at the Jogoo road based facility.
The brewers looked to have a grip of the game during the opening moments without threatening Fredrick Majani’s goal.
Robert Omunuk was at the centre of the first half chance marshalled by the visitors but his long throw-in into City Stars area failed to find the head of either of his team mates.
The Ugandan playmaker was at it again moments later through a corner kick he had won, but Majani reacted quickest to gather the cross, with danger lurking in the form of David ‘Cheche’ Ochieng and Jesse Were in his box.
City Stars had to wait until the 20th minute to respond to the early assault, with Bruno Sserunkuma and Jimmy Bageya’s pace and trickery offering food for thought to the visitor’s rear guard. On this occasion a through-ball from the former AFC Leopards forward found his team mate well placed but the latter could only manage a hurriedly scuffled shot into the welcoming arms of Samuel Odhiambo.
Immediately thereafter, youngster Ishamel Dunga’s blind pass in his own half resulted into a goal scoring opportunity for City Stars after a great passage of play, but yet again, Sserunkuma failed to trouble Odhiambo.
Jesse Were almost redeemed his striker with what turned out to be the best chance of the half.
The lanky forward’s connection to Joshua Oyoo’s cross from left hand side of the field seemed goal-bound, only to be stopped by the upright with Majani well beaten.
Omunuk, who seemed to have been entrusted with the set piece role in this encounter, then blazed a direct free-kick over the bar, forcing both sides to retreat into the dressing room at the break with everything to play for.
City Stars came back a rejuvenated side in the second period and could even have snatched an unlikely lead with Odhiambo failing to control what had seemed a harmless cross from Justus Basweti, only for his team mate Dennis ‘Wise’ Okoth to blaze the loose ball over the bar when it would have seemed easier to score. Joshua Oyoo, a constant menace, floated in a cross that was met by the head of the tallest player on the pitch - Shikokoti - for a goal.
Credit Bye Wadda’s team that pushed forward after going a goal down but just could not equalise. The Kawangware-based team almost managed to, only to be denied by the heroics of Odhiambo, who tipped Bageya’s rasping shot over the bar, then the upright which stopped substitute Francis Thairu’s improvised shot.
“It’s a mystery how we lost this match” Bageya said. “We were very unlucky but won’t cry too much about it. We will build on this performance ahead of the next engagement,” the tricky forward said.