BY STEVE AYOO
Posta Rangers put themselves in a prime position to retain their status in the Kenyan Premier League as they won 2-1 at Nairobi Stima in the first leg of their relegation/promotion playoff match.
Stima, third in the 2018-19 National Super League (NSL), welcomed the mail men to the Karuturi Stadium, alias Old Trafford, with a chance to join – or in the case of Posta, remain – amongst the elite up for grabs.
Two stunning freekicks had the tie evenly poised at half time as, first, Posta captain Jockins Atudo rifled home from 25 yards with just four minutes played, only for Dennis Oalo to leave Posta keeper Gradus Ochieng rooted to his spot with another exquisite freekick at the stroke of half time.
Posta looked dangerous on the counter with Marcellus Ingotsi, rumored to be on his way to Tusker FC, and Gershon Likono especially proving a mare for a less mobile Stima defence led by the beyond lanky Joseph Shikokoti.
It was Francis Nyambute however who was getting into better positions. He rattled the bar then forced Stima keeper into a fingertip save with a header before his labor was rewarded as he bundled home after Stima defence failed to clear from inside their own box.
Stima found it difficult to play their often free-flowing football as an attack that lacked the guile and inventiveness of the highly in demand Curtis Wekesa and the pace and finishing power of Victor Omune was well marshaled by Atudo and Co.
The duo are expected to be match fit for the second leg.
Posta almost made it a two-goal advantage as a punted clearance from Simon Mbugua almost sunk in but the keeper was, only just, alert to parry the ball to safety.
The hosts, backed by a near capacity crowd, piled on pressure late on but what they did looked elementary as time ebbed away.
John Kamau’s Posta barely had to hang on and will take the lead into the return leg which they host in Machakos on Wednesday.