Gor Mahia went five points clear atop the Kenyan Premier League table on Monday afternoon after beating Nzoia Sugar 2-1 at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
Nzoia took an early lead after Hansel Ochieng beat goalkeeper Fredrick Odhiambo with a second minute penalty but their lead only lasted five minutes as Francis Mustapha levelled matters when he guided home Dennis Oliech’s cross.
Defender Geoffrey Ochieng was the unlikely hero for Gor, heading home into an empty net after Benson Mangala failed to deal with George ‘Blackberry’ Odhiambo’s cross in the 88th minute.
It was Gor’s second league victory in just two days and their fifth on the trot, taking their points tally to 42 points after 18 rounds, five more than Sofapaka FC who have played one extra game.
By Wednesday evening Gor could be eight points clear If they beat Sony Sugar at the same venue.
Head coach Hassan Oktay made a whopping 10 changes on the squad that defeated Kariobangi Sharks by a similar scoreline two days ago, retaining only goalkeeper Odhiambo as he maneuvers a draining fixtures congestion
Nzoia exerted pressure on the champions right from the off and were awarded with a chance to take the early lead when Wellington Ochieng was punished for a dangerous tackle on Ochieng.
The same player stepped up to score but the Oktay’s men responded almost immediately when Mustapha swept home from Oliech’s cutback.
Gor should have gone 2-1 up after some clever interplay between Cercidy Okeyo, Oliech and Odhiambo allowed the former to unleash a shot at goal but Katasi could only watch it sailed wide.
It was Okeyo’s last contribution on the game as the midfielder was substituted off with Lawrence Juma taking his place. Bernard Ondiek was also replaced by Shafiq Batambuze in an early double change before the break.
Odhiambo had another attempt at goal but his shot deflected off Gabriel Wandera for an unsuccessful corner kick.
Gor were stepping their search for a second goal before the break and Juma had the opportunity to make an instant impact on the match after Oliech had invited him to shoot but he was heavily marked and the attack died down.
Nzoia were first to threaten after the restart, with Jackson Dwang’ doing well to beat Ochieng but could not get his shot past Charles Momanyi who blocked it to clear the danger.
Brian Wepo brought down Mustapha just outside the area but the Burundian forward’s resultant free-kick went straight into the arms of Katasi.
Oliech collected a ball in the midfield and went on a darting run unleashing a fierce shot at goal but his effort grazed the top of the net and out.
It looked it would end in a stalemate but Ochieng, who had pushed forward following the introduction of Batambuze, struck at far post for the winner.
GOR LINE UP Starting XI: Fredrick Odhiambo, Wellington Ochieng, Joachim Oluoch, Charles Momanyi, Geoffrey Ochieng, Cercidy Okeyo, Samuel Onyango, George BlackBerry, Francis Mustapha, Bernard Ondiek, Dennis Oliec
Subs: Shaban Odhoji, Lawrence Juma, Erissa Ssekisambu, Shafiq Batambuze, Nicholas Kipkirui, Pascal Ogweno, Erick Ombija
ARNOLD AMBOYE : AUTHOR