By Steve Ayoo (@Steifmaster88)
Relegation-fighting Thika United claimed their biggest scalp of what has been a difficult season as they shocked league champions Gor Mahia 1-0 at the Thika sub-County Stadium, Sunday evening.
Michael Odongo’s goal two minutes into the hour mark settled an encounter that saw both teams struggle to create any meaningful chances.
Thika were perhaps deserving of the three points as they gave the game a go especially during the first quarter of the second half.
The two sides played out a barren result in the first half which witnessed little if no goal mouth action.
Thika recorded the game’s first effort on target after 30 minutes as the busy Heritier Luvualu forced Fredrick Odhiambo to a diving save. The keeper was almost immediately collecting the ball from the back of his net following a moment of miscommunication with Charles Momanyi whose backpass header missed the unintended target by inches.
On the opposite end, Gor almost fortuitously took the lead but Wellington Ochieng’s cross ricocheted off the bar.
Gor Mahia finished the half strongly with Jacques Tuyisenge also coming close but his connection from Boniface Omondi’s cross went wide, the two teams going into the breather level.
Bernard Ondiek and Innocent Wafula came off the bench to add fresh legs for Kogalo as Joachim Oluoch and Samuel Onyango made way. Ondiek’s presence saw Francis Mustafa push up, evacuating his role as Humphrey Mieno’s pargher in central midfield.
The changes added impetus to Gor in an attacking sense with Mustafa especially looking home with his new role.
It was however Thika’s subs who were wreaking havoc on the opposite end. James Kinyanjui and Waithera, replacements for Hajji Mwachoki and Benson Iregi, changed the tide in Thika’s favor thanks to their willingness to take their markers on. Kinyanjui had a hand on the goal as his angled strike was parried by Odhiambo with the rebound falling to Odongo who didn’t err.
Predictably, Kogalo threw the kitchen sink at Thika with Kevin Omondi adding more creativity upfield, having replaced Boniface Omondi.
Harun Shakava and Momanyi both headed over as Kogalo pressed for an equalizer while Mustafa had his effort cleared off the line after Thika keeper Eliud Emase had punched Ade’s free-kick into the danger zone.
The hosts managed to contain the late storm and protect an unlikely lead which marginally helps their fight against the drop.
For Gor, this third straight defeat in all competitions (second in the league this season) raises questions about their commitment to finish this season with near perception.
Meanwhile Thika’s nearest neighbours in the relegation dogfight, Wazito FC, were beaten 1-0 by Ulinzi Stars who netted through Enos Ochieng.
Vihiga United remain in the relegation equation after a one-all draw against Sony Sugar while Kakamega Homeboyz edges Nzoia United 3-2.