Francis Kimanzi's return to the Ruaraka Stadium ended in disappointment as Mathare United fell 2-0 to defending Kenyan Premier League (KPL) champions in a Round 12 league match played on Saturday 20 May.
Michael Khamati opened the scoring in the first minute with a deft left foot finish before Ugandan Shafik Batambuze doubled the visitors' lead with a brilliant individual effort 15 minutes to the full time whistle.
Heading into this match on the back of three losses, the Slum Boys badly needed a win but their start was one to forget. George Mandela engineered Tusker's first foray upfront with a clever through ball that Lennox Ogutu and Martin Ongori failed to deal with allowing Khamati to sneak in behind them.
A neat first touch saw Khamati set himself up for a venomous drive off his left boot that flew into Kasaya's left corner for a crucial opener. Shortly afterwards Mathare United sought a reply on the other end but Chrispin Oduor, George Owino and Chris Ochieng' all missed the target awfully.
They were almost punished by Allan Wanga but Kasaya came off his line to save comfortably from the Kenyan international. James Macharia almost put George Nsimbe's charges well on the driving seat but his effort went off target as he attempted to loop the ball over an advancing Kasaya.
The tide swung our way thereafter as we pinned the brewers into their own half but Tusker's defence remained intact marshalled by the experience heads of skipper James Situma and veteran custodian Duncan Ochieng'. In fact they resorted to soaking in pressure as they waited to pounce on the counter.
That tactic almost worked four minutes before the half hour mark when Wanga scurried down the right and delivered an accurate cutback that Humphrey Mieno failed to connect to. At this point Mathare United gave their all in terms of attack and the pressure almost paid off in the 32nd minute when Alphonce Ndonye arrived at the edge of the box to meet Daniel Mwaura's cross but excellent positioning from Duncan helped him save comfortably.
Both sides changed personell at the restart with Francis Kimanzi introducing Tyson Otieno for Cliff Nyakeya while Nsimbe sent in Clifford Alwanga for Wanga. Kimanzi's substitution seemed to work well as Otieno proved a useful attacking outlet; running rings around the Tusker defence at will.
One such foray saw him sashay past four Tusker defenders, drew Duncan off his line before laying the ball to Ndonye to score. However Ndonye took an age to shoot allowing the brewers to recover and clear the danger. That was his last touch as he was replaced by Derrick Onyango moments later as we pressed for an equalizer.
Nsimbe replied by hauling off the jaded Mandela for Abdul Hassan as he sought to defend his slim lead. Mathare United upped the tempo with incessant attacks on Tusker's half and the elusive leveller looked likely to arrive before an unlikely error from Kasaya changed the whole complexion of the game.
In the 75th minute, the moment that dampened their resolve arrived in unfortunate fashion. Kasaya, eager to initiate a quick counter attack, threw the ball towards Oduor but it took an awkward bounce and Batambuze intercepted.
The Ugandan still had a lot to do but he kept his cool. He shimmied past Lennox before placing the ball into the bottom left corner for Tusker's second. Kimanzi played his last card when he sent David Owino into the fray but Tusker showed massive experience to hold on to their cushioned lead.
The result leaves Mathare United at 17th place with 9 points, one above bottom placed Thika United who have a game in hand against Gor Mahia on Sunday 21 May.
Also read: Gallery: Mathare United 0-2 Tusker