Ulinzi Stars extended their unbeaten home run to six matches after two first half goals saw them conquer visiting Mathare United at Afraha, Wednesday evening.
The Soldiers, hunting for their maiden Kenya Premier League title in five years, were held to a 1-1 stalemate against lowly Nairobi City Stars in their last home game. The result was frowned upon.
Determined to correct the wrong of losing two points at home, the Kenya Defence Forces outfit were quick off the blocks against the Slum Boys. After pressing the visitors high up the field in the opening minutes, Ulinzi took a deserved lead with just 10 minutes on the clock. Skipper Stephen Ocholla leaped head and shoulders above the Mathare defence and powered in a header from a John Nairuka pinpoint cross beating Peter Odhiambo in Mathare’s goal.
It was the Ocholla’s second goal of the season having scored another header in the 3-1 win against local rivals Nakuru All Stars last month.
The visitors had not lost away to the four-time KPL winners in their previous 11 meetings, dating back to April 2 2011. However, their hopes of maintaining that run looked implausible just 5 minutes after the first goal, Kevin Amwayi finding the back of the net with a cracking volley at the quarter hour mark to double the hosts’ lead.
Mathare keeper Odhiambo was tested twice, first by reigning KPL Player of the Month John Makwatta then Oscar Wamalwa before the interval.
Mathare United boss Stanley Okumbi must have delivered a solid pep talk to his boys during the breather. The Slum Boys pulled a goal back just three minutes into the second half, their top hitman, Eric Johana finding the back of James Saruni’s net with a long range strike, his fourth goal of the campaign.
Job Muhati came close to restoring Ulinzi’s two-goal lead but was denied by a fingertip save from Odhiambo. On the other end, Saruni had to stretch at maximum to keep out Edwin Ombasa’s shot, a sacrifice that left the keeper injured and had to be replaced.
Despite losing their number one custodian and with 10 minutes added, Robert Matano’s side held on for the three points.
Their next assignment will be on Sunday against Sofapaka who they share the second spot on the log with. The duo drew both their matches 1-1 when they met last season but Sofapaka leads the Soldiers 4-2 in the head-to-head record.
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