Ulinzi Stars put to bed their slump in the Kenyan Premier League (KPL) after rallying from a goal down to pick a point in a 1 - 1 draw with Kakamega Homeboyz in the Round 19 clash staged at Afraha Stadium on Wednesday 13 June.
A barren first half produced really little before the teams burst to life in the second half and when it seemed Ulinzi Stars were headed for the opener, they were served a sucker punch by substitute Hassan Kikoyo to give Homeboyz the lead. However, the hosts rallied to level through top scorer Masita Masuta for a share of the spoils.
Saruni red card
While Ulinzi Stars may welcome the point gained from the clash, it did not all end well for them as goalkeeper James Saruni was sent off in the 90th minute after landing an elbow on Homeboyz forward Hassan Kikoyo in the rush to initiate attack, leaving defender Omar Mbongi as goalkeeper in the final exchanges.
Ulinzi went to the game seeking to get back to winning ways after losses to Sofapaka and Tusker in the last two matches while Homeboyz, fresh from the SportPesa Super Cup sought a winning return to domestic action but that was not well visible from the first half efforts with little scare on goal, save for Ulinzi's Cliff Kasuti's header that went wide, midway through the first half from Michael Otieno's cross.
On the Homeboyz side, George Mandela was also culpable of a big miss after skying his shot when with full view of goal and well picked by Moses Mudavadi's cross.
Mandela's miss towards the end of the first half must have rubbed new coach Paul Nkata the wrong way and at resumption for the second half, his debut was cut short, with Nkata sending Kikoyo on to boost the attack. Immediately afterwards, it was Ulinzi who went close with Kasuti hitting the post after connecting with Elvis Nandwa's cross.
in the 59th minute, Ibrahim Shambi did well to hold off two midfielders and set Elvis Nandwa through but Nandwa's shot drifted wide, before the sucker punch came in the 67th minute as Noah Wafula burst upfront and crossed in for Kikoyo to head home the opener. Two minutes later, Homeboyz should have added the second but Wafula was denied by the bar after meeting Eston Esiye's delivery from a corner.
That was just about it from the visitors as a push forward from Ulinzi created space for Kasuti whose shot was spilled by the keeper and Masita was on hand to direct the rebound home for his seventh goal of the season.
With the two sides having played 18 matches, Homeboyz moved a place up, to ninth on the log with 25 points as Ulinzi Stars stayed fourth on 29 points.