Ten-time Kenya champions Tusker on Saturday recovered from a goal down to beat Thika United 2-1 at the Thika Municipal Stadium.
Striker Kennedy Otieno scored the opening goal for Thika United, but this was not good enough as Tusker’s new signings Timonnah Wanyonyi and Mike Khamati scored a goal in each half to gift the brewers victory.
At Kenyatta Stadium in Machakos, Sofapaka beat Ushuru 3-1 to climb to claim an early lead in the table of standings.
At the same time, Ulinzi Stars drew 1-1 with visiting Sony Sugar at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru as Kakamega Homeboyz beat Western Stima at the Mumias Sports Complex.
In Thika, it was a game of two halves as the hosts controlled the proceedings for the better part of the first half, before the brewers burst into life shortly before the end of the first half.
Tusker coach Paul Nkata presented a new-look squad that featured 10 new signings, among them Anthony Ndolo, Shaffiq Batambuze, Fred Nkata, Khamati, Wanyonyi, Jackson Macharia and Collins Shivachi, and their solid performance in the second-half spoke volumes about the brewers’ title ambitions.
On the other hand, the hosts were missing key players like Sammy Meja and Raymond Omondi.
Although Thika United performed poorly in first half, they could only maintain their lead for 29 minutes.
Otieno’s opener came in the 16th minute when he evaded former Sofapaka defender Collins Shivachi and nutmegged an onrushing goalkeeper Duncan Ochieng before sliding the ball calmly into the net.
His team attacked with more intensity afterwards, and Otieno almost grabbed a brace two minutes later but he was denied by Ochieng.
The brewers won a penalty in the 36th minute when winger Batambuze was brought down in the area and former AFC Leopards forward Wanyonyi converted the resultant penalty to bring the brewers level.
Wanyonyi was withdrawn for Danson Kago just moments before the breather, and this would prove to be the turning point for the brewers.
Khamati came through with an individual goal in the 73rd minute after drawing out Thika United goalkeeper Hamza Muwonge before scoring the winner.
Tusker coach Paul Nkata was impressed with the victory.
“We expected a draw because this has always been a difficult hunting ground for Tusker.
It feels great to get full points. I hope we win the next three matches to position ourselves well for the title chase,” he said.
Reports by Cellestine Olilo, Francis Mureithi and Titus Maero