For yet another game, Ulinzi Stars played to a draw, this time not barren though, as it ended 1-1 against City Stars at the Utalii grounds on Saturday 16th January.
First half goals from Peter Opiyo and Oscar Wamalwa settled the clash that saw both sides come close, especially in the final stages.
City Stars had one change to the starting team with defender Wycliffe Otieno coming in in place of Salim Abdalla, while Ulinzi Stars had a raft of changes that saw Elvis Nandwa, John Kago and Bernard Ongoma dropped from the starting team with Churchill Muloma, Boniface Onyango and Oscar Wamalwa earning starting berths.
Ulinzi Stars wasteful
On to the game, it was all Ulinzi Stars in the opening exchanges and they should have taken the lead earlier on after fine crosses from Oscar Wamalwa and Michael Otieno all went begging in the third and seventh minutes, with Masita Masuta the target.
Masuta had the biggest miss of the opening half on 12 minutes as Ulinzi cleared their lines and Waweru picked him out in a quick counter attack. However, with just the keeper to beat, the striker blasted high and wide. A minute later, he went down in the box in what seemed like an illegal challenge from Wycliffe Otieno but the referee waved away calls for a penalty.
The Soldiers came to regret the misses as in the 18th minute, Opiyo delivered the sucker punch, beating James Saruni with a fine free kick that bounced under the bar behind the keeper. After a moment of hesitation, referee Adam Juma pointed to the center, confirming City Stars’ goal.
Ukinzi Stars were prodded to action and had more attacks directed at the City Stars end. A few flew off target but in the 29th minute, they won a penalty after Sven Yidah’s handball in the box. Oscar Wamalwa stepped up to take the penalty and sent Steve Njunge the wrong way.
Three minutes later, Njunge was forced to a good save as Brian Birgen won the ball in midfield and seeing none of his team mates making a run, decided to go it alone. His long range shot had the power and direction but Njunge punched back into play.
Ulinzi Stars were forced to a change as the lively Michael Otieno trooped off injured, to be replaced by John Njuguna. The new man added some punch on the left and should have had an assist after picking out Masuta in the 85th minute but Masuta had a very weak attempt at tapping in and Herit Mungai cleared with the keeper beaten.
Towards the end, City Stars attacked, throwing all forward in search of a win but James Saruni made a first crucial save with his feet to deny Ezekiel Odera before Rodgers Okumu’s attempt from the rebound hit the post.
At the end of it, City Stars were the more dejected at failing to bag all three points, especially after the two misses in the final minute. A point apiece leaves Ulinzi Stars eighth with eight points and City Stars sixth on 10 points.
City Stars Starting XI: Steven Njunge (GK), Herit Mungai, Kennedy Onyango, Wycliffe Otieno, Aziz Okaka, Sven Yidah, Peter Opiyo, Anthony Kimani (89’ Rodgers Okumu), Davis Agesa (80’ Ezekiel Odera), Oliver Maloba (60’ Timothy Ouma), Erick Ombija.
Unused Subs: Jacob Osano (GK), Charles Otieno, Wesley Onguso, Elvis Noor, Vincent Otieno, John Kamau.
Ulinzi Stars Starting XI: Saruni James (GK) (c), Birgen Brian, Mwale Harun, Masinde Alex, Andayi Boniface, Onyango Boniface, Waweru Daniel, Muloma Churchill (61’ Kago John), Wamalwa Oscar (64’ Shambi Ibrahim), Masita Bitolwa, Otieno Michael (70’ Njuguna John).
Unused Subs: Odhiambo Timothy (GK), Ruto Oliver, Abdalla Hamisi, Ongoma Bernard, Bikokwa Mark, Odiaga Byron, Chitai Fredrick, Mukolwe Edgar.
Yellow cards: 35’ Herit Mungai (City Stars), 44’ Kennedy Onyango (City Stars), 83’ Erick Ombija (City Stars), 84’ Boniface Onyango (Ulinzi Stars)