Champions Butali Sugar Warriors were forced to a 1-1 draw by exciting Wazalendo in Nairobi as Lakers and Amira Sailors also squared to a goalless draw in Kisumu in men and women’s hockey Premier League matches on Saturday.
Visiting Sailors held debutants Lakers to a barren draw in a match played at Simba Club in Kisumu.
It was also a day that saw former champions Sliders claim their first win of the season, edging out battling Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology at City Park Stadium.
Fans were left thrilled and yearning for more at the City Park during Butali Sugar and Wazalendo’s end-to-end thriller.
Wazalendo looked the better side from the start but squandered several chances including back-to-back four penalty corners in the last quarter.
Against the run of play, Amos Barkibir chalked a diving cross from the leftwing to find George Mutira on the edge of goal to score and put Butali ahead in at the stroke of half time.
Then Daston Barasa, who arguably was the star of the match with his tantalising skills, dribbled past Butali’s defenders putting through Isaac Nandukule to level in the 37 minute in a match that Butali’s keeper Linus Sang was kept on his toes.
Despite the draw, Butali that is the only side yet to taste defeat this season, went one point clear on the top with 14 points from five wins and one draw.
Wazalendo, who had lost their unbeaten run the previous weekend, losing to Western Jaguars 2-0, stayed third with an improved tally of 13 points.
“It was a tough game as expected after both sides strengthen their squads at the beginning of this season,” said Butali Sugar coach Dennis Owoka.
Owoka said praised his keeper, who kept them in the match with three daring saves in the first half. “Wazalendo had a solid defence especially at the top of the circle where we failed to penetrate,” said Owoka.
His Wazalendo counterpart Fidelis Kimanzi indicated that they had planned to go for short game but Butali closed them down forcing the to keep it long.
“We were the better side especially in the last two quarters but wasted many opportunities. Our fitness level was top notch and that is why were able to run them down as we opened the game,” said Kimanzi, adding that his boys deserved to win the match. “We take the positives from the match keeping in mind that Butali are the defending champions.”
Jaguars, who were not in action this weekend, remain second on 13 points, beating Wazalendo with a superior goal difference.
Lakers, who picked one point from the draw with Amira, dislodged USIU-A from second place with eight points. USIU-A are now third with seven points while Amira improved their tally to six points to stay fourth.
Sliders climbed two places to fifth with five points after their victory against JKUAT.
It was the fifth draw for Lakers who now move up to second and dislodge United States International University (USIU) from second while Sailors remain fourth.