Kenya Premier League champions Gor Mahia beat 10-man Nairobi City Stars 1-0 at the Utalii Complex on Sunday to move to sixth in the standings as they look to bridge the gap between them and league leaders Tusker FC.
AFC Leopards and Tusker are currently running away with the league title and Gor Mahia have lots to do if they wish to retain their Kenya Premier League title.
Karim Abdoul Nikiema scored the only goal of the match in the opening half as Gor moved to 25 points, nine behind table-toppers Tusker FC but have played 2 games less than the leaders in the top flight of football in Kenya.
City Stars had to play the final quarter of an hour with 10 men after Erick Ombija was sent off for an off the ball incident.
K’Ogalo, with a 12-point gap to bridge between them and the league leaders, knew only victory would be the ideal result as far as their aim to defend their crown was concerned.
They were off to a bright start with Kenneth Muguna testing keeper Steve Njung’e early on with a curling freekick that the shot-stopper duly saved.
City Stars looked more organized, played more of the possession but could not show much for it with any meaningful effort at goal. While City Stars failed to make the most of their possession, they were punished at the half-hour mark when Nikiema tapped into the net from the edge of the six-yard box after Clifton Miheso’s curling effort beat the goalkeeper but came off the crossbar.
City Stars almost drew level in the 41st minute, but Gor keeper Gad Mathews made sure his side went into halftime with a lead after pulling off a brilliant one-handed save. Antony ‘Muki’ Kimani took the second bite of the cherry on the ball after his freekick came off the wall, but his lobbed effort was turned behind for a corner.
Gor looked to firm up their lead early in the second half playing an attacking game straight from the whistle. They were denied by a full-stretched Njung’e save in the 55th minute when Muguna teed up Miheso from a freekick, the latter’s low shot being taken care of by the keeper.
City Stars coach Sanjin Alagic made changes with Nicholas Kipkurui coming on to face his former club in place of Oliver Maloba.
However, their push to get back into the game were crushed when they were reduced to 10 men with a quarter of an hour left, which meant they were then always chasing the game. Erick Ombija was sent off for an off the ball elbow on Gor Mahia debutant Frank Odhiambo.
Gor almost doubled their advantage a few minutes later, but Tito Okello could not guide his free header at the back post into the net from a delightful John Macharia cross.
Alagic threw in a double change to try and bring some balance into his team with Charles Otieno and Rodgers Okumu coming on for skipper Kimani and Elvis Noor, respectively. Gor responded by bringing on Chris Alpha for Tito Okello and Samwel Onyango for Muguna.
City Stars should have drawn level at the death, but Kipkurui failed to punish his former side when his one on one effort with keeper Mathews was saved.
Gor Mahia are still in the race but need to string a few wins to stay in the hunt for the league title in the first division of football in Kenya.