Biased officiating once again reared its ugly head at the Mumias Complex as Kakamega Homeboyz scored a controversial equalizer to deny us maximum points in a Round 17 Kenyan Premier League (KPL) match played on Saturday 29 July.
It was the same script from the corresponding fixture last season with the cast changing slightly this time round centre referee Nyabera Libese performing George Mwai’s role to award the hosts a dubious penalty that was converted by Wycliffe Ochomo in the 88th minute to cancel out Chris Ochieng’s 71st minute opener.
A slow burner encounter came to life in the 17th minute when Ochieng’ showed quick feet to leave Moses Chikati in his wake before playing a clever cutback to Chrsipin Oduor who set up Daniel Mwaura for a shot at the edge of the box. However Mwaura’s effort was always rising failing to test David Juma.
Ten minutes later, Mwaura turned provider after racing past Eric Ambunya down the right and picking out Ochieng’ with a pin point cross at the back post. Unmarked, Ochieng’ went for flair but his acrobatic finish missed the target narrowly with Juma well beaten.
Homeboyz replied on the other end with their best chance of the game when an overlapping Hedmond Mauda whipped a cross into the area that was met by a glancing header from the diminutive Festo Omukoto who watched in despair as his effort went narrowly wide.
The game was starting to open up in the latter stages after a cagey start from both sides and Mwaura came closest to providing the breakthrough at the brink of half time. A neat passing move culminated in Ronald Reagan playing him through with a clever through ball. Mwaura outpaced his marker but took a heavy first touch that gave Juma room to come off his line and deny him from point blank range.
That proved to be his last contribution of the game as he was substituted at the restart; Edward Seda taking up his place for his first appearance of the season. Both sides then had chances to take the lead shortly afterwards. First, Oduor slalomed his way past two Homeboyz defenders before laying the ball into the path of Reagan whose effort squirmed over the bar. Then on the opposite side Moses Mudavadi made light work of Andrew Juma on the left but Francis Nambute failed to apply meaningful contact to his low cross.
Moments before the hour mark, Wycliffe Kasaya was tested by Elias Ochieng’ who produced a beauty from a freekick; expertly curling the ball through the inside of his left foot but Kasaya matched it with a reflex save. Francis Kimanzi then played his second card introducing Cliff Nyakeya for the off colour David Owino and his first touch of the ball almost proved decisive.
The speedy winger received the ball out wide on the left, escaped the attention of Mauda before cutting into the box where he was appended by Charles Momanyi but referee Nyabera ignored the penalty appeal. At this point, the midfield trio of Oduor, Okal and Seda were completely running the show and Mike Mururi sent Eston Esiye to the fray in the 65th minute in a bid to change the tide in his side’s favour.
Yet it was Mathare United that continued to dominate and the moment we silently craved finally arrived. Oduor, the club’s top scorer, slipped the ball into the path of Ochieng’ who once again galloped past Chikati before firing a venomous shot that came off the left upright on its way in.
Sensing defeat Mururi summoned the experienced Wycliffe Ochomo from the bench in the 77th minute and eleven minutes later the burly striker was on the score sheet. In a moment of drama, Nyabera wrongly adjudged Lennox Ogutu to have handled in the box and awarded the hosts a penalty that was strongly protested by Mathare United. Ochomo stepped forward to take it and he made no mistake sending Kasaya the wrong way.
Nyabera almost gifted Mururi’s charges an indirect freekick at the death on grounds that Kasaya had caught the ball outside the box. However his first assistant advised him otherwise to our relief. There was still time for Ochieng’ to put gloss on his man of the match performance with an assist when he rounded Juma in added time but there was no white shirt to connect to his cutback.
The result leaves us bottom of the log with 13 points ahead of the return leg slated for Wednesday 29 July.
Starting XI: 32. David Juma (GK), 7. Hedmond Mauda 15. Eric Ambunya 25.Moses Chikati 4. Charles Momanyi 39. Elias Ochieng' 6. Festo Omukoto (77’ 10. Wycliffe Ochomo) 23. Moses Mudavadi 24. Ali Bai 21. Francis Nambute 14. Andrew Kulecho (65’ 2. Eston Esiye)
Unused subs: 1.Arthur Arakaza (GK), 28. Benson Mutonyi 18. John Avire 20. George Odwiuor 5.Wycliffe Opondo
Starting XI: 18.Wycliffe Kasaya (GK) 12.Andrew Juma 25. Samuel Olwande 6. George Owino (C) 23. Lennox Ogutu 22.Roy Okal (90’ 26. Abubakar Keya) 29. Chrispin Oduor 16.David Owino (61’ 11.Cliff Nyakeya) 15. Ronald Reagan 2. Daniel Mwaura (46’ 4. Edward Seda) 9. Chris Ochieng’
Unsued subs: 1. Mark Kioko (GK) 21. Derrick Nzosi 17. Elijah Mwanzia 13. John Mwangi