Ulinzi Stars returned to winning ways in the BetKing Premier League, with a 2-1 win over Mathare United at Afraha Stadium on Wednesday 27 January.
Daniel Waweru opened the scoring in the seventh minute and Elvis Nandwa doubled the Soldiers’ lead in the 71st. However, Daniel Otieno gave the visitors some hope with a volleyed goal in the 88th minute.
Both sides went to the game having registered a win apiece, and were under pressure to collect three points. Mathare, who started the season a bit late, had only beaten Zoo FC while Ulinzi’s only win was against Kakamega Homeboyz.
It was the home team that showed the more hunger though, prodding from the early minutes, with Michael Otieno swinging in two crosses in the opening four minutes that went begging.
In the seventh minute though, Otieno opted for a low cross, picking out Daniel Waweru who managed to shake off a feeble challenge from David Ochieng. Waweru had an equally weak touch on the ball but got the direction right and his goal was helped on by Job Ochieng in the Mathare goal, who did very poorly in trying to handle the ball.
It sneaked in through his hands for Ulinzi Stars’ fourth goal of the season. The early opener gave Ulunzi Stars the needed momentum and they kept sending forward balls, limiting most of the action to the Mathare half.
David Mwangi and Klinsman Omulanga managed a few good runs in the Ulinzi area but that was mostly it as a combination of grit good timing from the Ulinzi backline marshaled by skipper James Saruni left the visitors only vying for scraps.
After a series of draws, Ulinzi Stars sensed this could be a high scoring game and made a tactical change in the 36th minute, withdrawing the largely ineffective Mark Bikokwa for Masita Masuta.
Shortly after, the man of the match thus far, Michael Otieno suffered an ankle injury as he delivered a great cross, which an unmarked Churchill Muloma headed wide. It happened to be Otieno’s last act of the game and he would be replaced by Elvis Nandwa.
The two subs – Masuta and Nandwa – would combine well in the second half to give Ulinzi Stars a safe cushion with the second goal. Masuta collected the ball in the right flank and perfectly picked Nandwa’s run with his cross, for the former Mathare United midfielder to head in on 71 minutes.
While it seemed Ulinzi Stars were coasting to an easy win, Mathare United upped the ante in the final 10 minutes and were duly rewarded as Norman Ogolla beat Byron Odiaga in the right channel to deliver a cross that picked a deflection then John Mwangi placed it well for Daniel Otieno. The forward slammed home a volley past the flatfooted James Saruni.
Ulinzi held on for their second win of the season and eighth unbeaten outing as they rose to eighth place on 12 points while Mathare remained 17th with four points from five matches.
Ulinzi Stars: James Saruni (GK) (c), Byron Odiaga, Harun Mwale, Boniface Andayi, Alex Masinde, Bernard Ongoma, Daniel Waweru (68’ Oscar Wamalwa), John Kago, Mark Bikokwa (36’ Masita Masuta), Churchill Muloma (68’ Ibrahim Shambi), Michael Otieno (40’ Elvis Nandwa).
Unused subs: Timothy Odhiambo (GK), Hamisi Abdalla, Bonaventure Muchika, Edgar Mukolwe, Quintine Indeche, Francis Milimo, John Njuguna, Oliver Ruto.
Mathare United: Job Ochieng (GK), Martin Ongori (75’ Martin Werunga), Lennox Ogutu, David Ochieng, Norman Ogolla, Cersidy Okeyo (68’ Khalid Jumaan), Chris Oduor (c), Daniel Otieno, John Mwangi, James Kinyanjui (59’ Kennedy Ochieng), Klinsman Omulanga (46’ Dani Lual)
Unused subs: David Okello (GK), Dennis Ochieng, Alphonse Ndonye, Danson Kago.
Goals: 6’ Daniel Waweru (assist – Michael Otieno); 71’ Elvis Nandwa (assist – Masita Masuta); 88’ Daniel Otieno (assist – John Mwangi).
Yellow cards: 66’ Lennox Ogutu (Mathare United), 70’ Khalid Jumaan (Mathare United), 72’ Elvis Nandwa (Ulinzi Stars)