Meddie Kagere’s 48th minute goal was the winner as Gor Mahia retained their slot on top of the Kenyan Premier League standings with a 2-1 win over Sony Sugar at the Moi Stadium in Kisumu.
At the Afraha Stadium in Nakuru, Ulinzi Stars rose to second from seventh despite being held to a 1-1 draw by defending champions Tusker FC.
In Kisumu, Gor were forced to dig deep before Kagere tapped home the winner three minutes from the restart after picking up a loose shot from Kenneth Muguna.
The 2015 league champions had started the match with pace and were rewarded in the 22nd minute when midfielder Ernest Wendo struck home from the edge of the box.
Before the goal, Gor had created open scoring opportunities. Jacques Tuyisenge and his Rwandese compatriot Kagere had both missed pinpoint chances from Karim Nizigiyimana and Godfrey Walusimbi crosses.
The hosts fought back to draw level seven minutes from the break after Ugandan import George Abege broke the offside trap before rounding Boniface Oluoch to score.
Kagere hit the winner
But three minutes into the second half, Kagere hit the winner. Gor should have added more goals but were wasteful with Tuyisenge coming close with a free header and Muguna’s long ranger going over.
In Nakuru, Ulinzi will rue a last minute lapse in concentration which allowed Tanzanian Abdul Hassan score the equalizer for Tusker FC in the 90th minute.
The soldiers will have themselves to blame after spurring several open scoring chances.
“We had talked about the Tusker second balls from flicks and how to defend them because they play with twin strikers, but it is disappointing that we conceded in the same way. Lost scoring chances came to haunt us,” Benjamin Nyangweso, the Ulinzi Stars coach said after the match.
His opposite number George Nsimbe was pleased with the result, beaming in confidence that his charges were finally on track after a dreadful start to the season.
Tusker were better in the first half, dominating possession and playing with so much confidence, contrary to how they had been fairing in the opening games of the season.
There were no scoring opportunities. The best initiative in the opening 20 minutes was an Allan Wanga shot from the right which went over.
Enosh Ochieng fluffed the best opportunity for the soldiers on the half hour mark. The forward who was starting in place of the injured Evans Amwoka was sent through by Brian Birgen but Duncan Oluoch in the Tusker goal thwarted him one on one.
Saruni was quick off his line
Five minutes to the break, Tusker had a similar chance with Mike Khamati breaking into the box but an onrushing James Saruni was quick off his line to narrow the angle and block the effort.
Tusker started the second half strongly and in the 57th minute, Clifford Alwanga who had just been introduced broke clear on the left to lay in a cross, but Ben Sande cleared it.
On the hour mark, Ochieng had another great chance from a counter but he placed his shot wide after taking a heavy first touch off a Daniel Waweru pass.
He was rested in the 77th minute for Stephen Waruru who made an immediate impact.
With his first touch of the ball, barely in his first run into the opposition territory, the striker volleyed home after Waweru had put him through.
Tusker exerted pressure in search of an equalizer and in the 84th minute, Hassan came close but his volley was parried by Saruni.
But, the Tanzanian found space at the far post in the 90th minute.
Ulinzi will have a three-day rest before facing Western Stima in a catch up match at the same venue. A win will solidify their hold of second spot.
KPL weekend fixtures and results
Saturday: Sony Sugar 1 Gor Mahia 2 (Moi Stadium, Kisumu), Tusker FC 1 Ulinzi Stars 1 (Afraha Stadium, Nakuru).
Sunday: Bandari v Thika United (2 p.m.), AFC Leopards v Muhoroni Youth (Mbaraki Complex, Mombasa – 4:15 p.m.), Kakamega Homeboyz v Nzoia Sugar (Mumias Complex 3 p.m.), Western Stima v Chemelil Sugar (Moi Stadium, Kisumu - 3 p.m.), Zoo Kericho v Sofapaka (Kericho Green Stadium - 3 p.m.).
Monday: Kariobangi Sharks v Nakumatt FC (2 p.m.), Mathare United v Posta Rangers (Thika Sub-County Stadium – 4:15 p.m.).