Ulinzi Stars had a bright start to their BetKing Premier League match against Nzoia Sugar at Mumias Sports Complex on Sunday 21st March, but it all counted for so little at the end as the two sides shared spoils in a 1-1 draw.
The Soldiers, playing away to the Millers, had the opening goal just 15 second after the first whistle, with John Njuguna heading them in the lead. However, James Kibande restored parity before the break, rewarding Nzoia’s efforts.
Ulinzi Stars went to the game on the back of three straight losses and after a two week break, they had a great start as Daniel Waweru whipped in a cross right from kickoff. John Njuguna rose well above the Nzoia defence to head home for the opening goal.
That should have given Ulinzi Stars the needed cue that this was their game, and right after, Masita Masuta slid in to slot home from John Kago’s slide rule pass, but he was flagged offside just as he wheeled off in celebration.
The warning was home for the home team and after a slow start, the hosts started fashioning moves of their own and attacking the Ulinzi end. They did make out some uncomfortable situations for the Soldiers but in the 34th minute, Kibande made their fine spell count.
A corner floated in by Moses Mwale was punched clear by Ulinzi keeper James Saruni, but it still needed an alert defence to finish the clearance. That alertness lacked and Kibande collected the spills to fire home from close range.
At 1-1, Masita Masuta should have restored Ulinzi’s lead in the 37th minute, but he headed wide a free-header emanating from another of Waweru’s top deliveries from the wing. A long ranger from Njuguna would also narrowly miss the target and a Masuta yellow card wrapped up a frustrating first half for Ulinzi Stars.
Mark Bikokwa, a secondf half sub for Ulinzi Stars did have a great chance with a header from six yards out, but directed it wide before forcing the Nzoia keeper Humphrey Katasi to a good save with a volley inside the box. Bernard Ongoma, another Ulinzi sub also had a go from distance but Katasi saved.
It was Nzoia who would get the best chance towards the closing stages after a fine team move but with Felicien Okanda pulling the trigger, Saruni proved equal to the attempt, the Kenyan international making a good save.
On the other end, Bikokwa had a header narrowly miss the target, before Oscar Wamalwa fluffed a good chance in a crowded Nzoia Sugar area.
At the end of it, both benches cut frustrated figures, especially with the missed chances in the second half. One point a piece it was for the competing sides and none moved on the log, with Nzoia on 19 points at 12th and Ulinzi Stars 13th with 18 points.