Barry Silah and Viden Ochieng @PeopleSport11
Western Stima yesterday laboured hard to silence Nairobi City Stars 1-0 at Moi Stadium, Kisumu in a National Super League (NSL) encounter.
The slim victory guided coach Paul Ogai men to open a seven-point gap between them and second placed KCB at 63 points.
Other promotion candidates Ushuru and Nairobi Stima were also frustrated in their missions against fairly average teams as their title ambitions suffered respective hits with draws.
John Oruko fired the former SportPesa Premier League side ahead at the stroke of half time with a clever ball that went between veteran goalkeeper Ronny Kagunzi’s legs.
The hosts twice denied the visitors’ attempts to make early attacks from wing play, Kevin Okoth of Stima threatened with a long range strike in the fifth minute but it missed the target.
James Ogada was at the right place to drive the ball into the back of City Star’s net three minutes earlier, but his right foot finish from Fredrick Nyarombo’s delivery was not strong enough and the ball rolled slowly right into the hands of Kagunzi who was well positioned.
Stima pressed harder following instructions from their Coach, sending in a series of powerful long-range shots.
The Nairobi-based club survived in the 21st minute with Kagunzi making a brilliant save, after he dived to deny Geoffrey Ochieng. Stima were not clinical with the resultant corner -kick to snatch the lead they were searching for after the goalkeeper again cleared the ball to safety.
“It was a very challenging match for us, we conceded several chances which could have put us ahead in the early minutes of the game,” said coach Ogai. coach John Amboko of City Stars bemoaned poor officiating given the high stakes in play with the league entering close stages.
Earlier on KCB had beat a difficult customer Kenya Police on 12th spot 2-1 at Camp Toyoyo to keep them within touching distance of the leaders.
This was new tactician Elvis Ayany’s second successive win at the helm. Both teams showed hunger but the law enforcers were guilty of basic errors which cost them the tie.
Ushuru on 59 points has had an inconsistent campaign in recent times and Kangemi proved very well matched against the former Premiership side.