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Monday, May 13, 2013

KSJ End 3-Match Losing Run with a Thrilling Win over Umoja

Kenya Sports Journalists (KSJ) edged out Umoja FC in a 7-goal thriller that finished 4-3 in favour of the scribes who ended their three-match losing streak.

Timothy Olobulu, Steve “Suso” Steifmaster Ayoo and Antony Junior netted for KSJ who were helped by an own goal from Umoja’s Jack Namagaya in a match played at Busara Grounds in Umoja estate.

KSJ welcomed first team regulars captain Alex Isaboke and his assistant Timothy Olobulu, midfield kingpin Francis Wadegu, roaming leftback Joseph Shegu and hardman Enrique Ochieng’ into the starting lineup after the quintet missed the May 4th 4-1 humbling in Jericho a week earlier. Sassy Vivian Akinyi retained her position in goal while her twin sister Sharon shifted from rightback to a makeshift center-back position which also had new signing Magero making his debut in the absence of injured Mulemi Gregory. Isaboke occupied the right fullback position deserted by Sharon as Joseph Shegu starred at leftback.

The 4-4-2 position had Wadegu as the deep-lying midfielder with Olobulu just ahead of him while Amos Abuga and Enrique played on either flanks. Peter Shattah Man Muchiri played the No 9 role with Steifmaster Ayoo besides him.

The home team named the same starting lineup to the one that beat KSJ 3-1 in their previous encounter in May with only lanky Jack Opondo  relegated to the bench while “Aguero” sat out again as he continues to struggle with a knee injury. Fred Maingi was the center referee.

KSJ were the first to kick into gear as their opponents stumbled under the starter’s gun under the watchful brow of their coach. The hosts could have gone behind just minutes after the start when Steifmaster riffled in a shot from outside the penalty area but which flew inches above the crossbar.

The home team struggled to create chances as they were starved of the ball. KSJ on the other hand spread the ball around with poise and relative ease and moved forward almost impeccably, Isaboke and Enrique providing a mouthwatering outlet from the right wing. The media team’s dominance saw them get first clear chance of the game. Enrique found himself inside Umoja’s penalty box and as the diminutive winger prepared to shoot, he got hauled down and the referee was convinced it was a penalty.

Steve Ayoo, who was boasting of an enviable record of not having lost a penalty in his KSJ career, stepped forward to take it. The midfielder-cum-forward went for power rather than skill, a decision which proved costly as he hit it hard in the middle but the ball flew way above the crossbar.

The missed penalty stirred the Umoja team as they got hold of the first half, at least until the last ten minutes of it. The hosts attacked with finesse especially from the right flank where George Marango and Ulinzi were the architects. Marango put his team ahead in the 45th minute when he latched onto a through ball to tap in for a 1-0 lead. KSJ struggled to regain control of the match and Steifmaster failed to connect to Shattaman’s clever backheel. It all seemed the penalty miss had messed up with his game.

In need of a goal, Timothy Olobulu exchanged positions with Steifmaster who dropped into midfield, a move that worked as KSJ controlled the last 10 minutes of the half but could not draw level, Olobulu seeing his first two efforts fly wide.

The second half had all the action of the first, but with goals. KSJ’s man in the dugout, Mulemi, withdrew Shattaman and Abuga for Antony Junior and Dennis Kameni who went into the leftback position and pushed Shegu to the left flank where he proved most effective. The scribes leveled the scoring in the 80th minute, Olobulu slotting home effortlessly from close range. Ayoo put the journalists ahead for the first time in the game with a neat finish after a priceless through ball from Kameni, only for George Marango to draw level for the hosts.

Poor officiating saw Jack Opondo make it 3-2 for Umoja. The forward was miles offside but the referee either didn’t see it or decided to ignore the linesman’s call. KSJ fortuitously leveled the score when Jack Magaya’s seemingly harmless back pass crawled into the back of the net but the goalkeeper was more at fault as he made a complete mess of it under pressure from Olobulu.

As the minutes ticked by, the visitors became even more adventurous as they looked for the winning goal. They pinned their opponents in their final third as they chased every ball down and intercepted passes with guile and tenacity. Peter “Balotelli” Gakuo who was introduced late into the game replacing Enrique while Olobulu limped off and was replaced by Emily Wang'ombe. 

Gakuo's fresh legs saw him amass two shots on target within his first five minutes and the thin-legged player made a telling contribution going forward. KSJ’s continued to press and their efforts were rewarded in the 110th minute when Antony went into a 50-50 challenge with Umoja’s keeper whose poor handling saw the ball fall into the winger’s path to slot home what would prove to be the winner. KSJ embarked on a clever play in the final minutes with Joseph Shegu’s tricky nut-megs helping his team see off the game.

The last effort of the game saw Ayoo ghost himself into Umoja’s penalty area. He received a clever corner kick from Shegu but, gloriously unmarked, he fluffed a left-footed shot to save Umoja from falling further behind on the day.

The scribes wouldn’t be robbed of a hard-fought win on the day as the outrageous referee blew the final whistle.

“We wanted to avoid losing our fourth match on the trot, it has never happened before. You could see there were tired legs out there but the players gave their all till the last second of the game,” said Mulemi.

KSJ’s next assignment will see them travel back to Ofafa Jericho Ground to play former Bedjos players.

KSJ Man of the Match – Magero - Only making his debut, the new signing slotted seamlessly into the KSJ defence and was instrumental in keeping the scoreline respectable for the scribes. He never tired nor put a foot wrong and derided initial fears that Mulemi would be missed with a combative performance alongside Sharon.

KSJ Flop of the Match – Amos Abuga – the whole KSJ team played their hearts out including man Abuga and this flop part is just for the sake of the article. However, the goal-drought-stricken forward still had major shortcomings. Abuga failed to put one successful cross through, a massive crime for someone playing as a winger. His first touch also let him down most of the times.

Warning Bells - Shattah Man Muchiri/Steifmaster Ayoo - Muchiri made brilliant efforts upfront but finds himself here since he failed to win a single tackle the entire game and escorted his opponents most of the time. Steifmaster missed a penalty and allowed this to mess him up and consequently his contribution to the team for most of the first half. Bounced back with a talismanic performance especially after atoning for the missed penalty with a well taken goal in the second half. He should learn to accept and move on.

Overall Flop of the Match – Referee Fred Maingi – What a joke! This man should never be allowed to get any close to a whistle again, even in a chickens’ game! Made absolutely no decisions of his own and gave thrown ins, corners and free kicks to the team whose players screamed first or more. Had zero control of the game and let dangerous tackles pass. The worst refereeing you will ever see in a football match!

And That's thesteifmastertake!!