Defending champions Gor Mahia continued with their Kenyan Premier League resurgence, beating Mathare United 1-0 on Wednesday to move to within five points of the top as KCB surged to the summit with a similar victory against Bidco United in Thika.
After Tusker FC dropped points on Tuesday with a 1-0 loss at the hands of Posta Rangers, the onus was on the chasing pack to make the most of it and both KCB and Gor Mahia did so.
In Thika, Derrick Otanga hit with his seventh goal of the season at the stroke of halftime to help KCB bank maximum points which took them to 39 points, one ahead of Tusker.
Meanwhile in Nairobi, an unconvincing Gor rode their luck but still picked a 1-0 victory over a struggling Mathare United courtesy of a Lennox Ogutu own goal. The victory takes Gor to 24 points with one game in hand.
Mathare who remain rooted at the bottom of the standings were guilty of lacking the cutting edge in the final third as they had the most of the chances. Gor had been off to some attacking start with Jules Ulimwengu heading Geoffrey Ochieng’s cross wide while Kenneth Muguna had a shot go wide.
But, Mathare were threatening with their quick runs on the wings with Danson Kago and Tyson Otieno causing all sorts of problems for the defending champions. But, their lack of an instinctive finisher proved all the difference as they couldn’t hit the target.
Kago delivered several promising crosses inside the box, but Eugene Wethuli who was given the responsibility to lead the line could not connect or make the keeper work.
Tyson had the first effort on target for Mathare in the 39th minute when he picked the ball from 35 yards out after Gor had lost possession. He lifted his head and had a sight for goal, but his lon range shot was well collected by keeper Gad Mathews.
Minutes later, Kago made a good run on the right, dancing past two of his markers before delivering an inviting low cross, but Wethuli was late to arrive as the ball rolled across to the other end of the pitch.
For the missed chances, Mathare were punished five minutes to the break when Ogutu scored his second own goal of the season, heading the ball beyond his own keeper trying to cut away an Alpha Onyango cross.
Mathare should have levelled and gone back into the game four minutes later, but another brilliant opportunity was wasted. Norman Werunga did well on the left to slap in a low cross which Cris Oduor dummied for Kago to collect unmarked behind him.
However, the winger shot straight at keeper Mathews as Mathare blew their best chance of the game.
In the second half, Mathare piled pressure and pinned Gor into their own half in a bid to get back into the game. Playing their 10th match in a month, fatigue was showing on K’Ogalo who struggled to adapt to the fast paced Mathare attacks.
But once again, the Slum Boys were inefficient in the final third despite getting chance after chance. Not event he introduction of the attacking duo of Clifford Alwanga and John mwangi could spur the blunt forward line.
It would have been Gor though who sought to end the game on a high as the introduction of Sidney Ochieng suddenly spurred them to life. The former Tusker FC forward twice threatened with shots from range, but keeper Job Ochieng gathered both with ease.
Meanwhile, AFC Leopards came from two goals down to collect a point in their away trip to Wundanyi against Sofapaka. Austin Odhiambo’s delightful freekick earned Leopards a point after Sofapaka had gone two up within the first 10 minutes of the game.
Leopards remain third in the standings with 37 points, two behind leaders KCB and one behind Tusker FC as the race for the title hots up with 15 rounds of matches to play.