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Football | Kenya

Mike Barasa @SS com

Leopards extend unbeaten run

AFC Leopards increased their lead at the summit to six points following a hard-fought 2-1 win over Thika United on Saturday.

Goals by Victor Ochieng and Mike Barasa gave Leopards all three points moving them to 26 points after ten matches, six ahead of Sofapaka albeit having played a game more. The win also ensured that Ingwe preserved their unbeaten run in the league

They were however made to work for the victory as their hosts gave as good as they got forcing the visitor into resolute rearguard action for most of the second half in an entertaining encounter at Thika Municipal Stadium.

Leopards were forced to make one change as Allan Wanga was ruled out due to an ankle injury with Barasa getting the nod while Thika welcomed back Moses Arita from injury.

The home boys dominated the opening exchanges but found themselves a goal down on 21 minutes when Ochieng rose highest to powerfully head home a Bernard Man’goli corner past Thika keeper Lucas Indeche.

Thika should have equalised on 27 minutes when Dennis Odhiamo head a Kahata corner back across goal but Kepha Aswani ballooned the ball from six yards.

They got the goal two minutes later when Kahata capitalised on an Eric Masika mistake setting up , Moses Arita whose smart finish went in off the post.

Leopards regained the lead in style on 33 minutes when Jimmy Bageya led a lighting counter attack running 50 yards with the ball before slipping in Barasa who coolly chipped Indeche to make it 2-1.

Thika wasted gilt edged chance on the stroke of halftime, when Simon Mbugua was put through by a deft Aswani flick but he was unable to beat keeper Patrick Matasi who made a low save.

The second half was one way traffic as Thika sought an equaliser with Kahata flashing a shot wide after good link up with Cliftion Miheso.

Kahata was seeing a lot of the ball and he forced Matasi to a fine low save on 62 minutes and from the resulting corner Glay Dirkir headed the ball over at the far post.

Aswani was next on 69 minutes heading over an Odhiambo cross but Leopards held on to claim vital three points.

“We are delighted with the win. It was a tough match and we had to defend for long periods but we were comfortable and in the last 15 minutes our goalkeeper played very well collecting all crosses and corner in our area,” said Leopards coach Jan Koops.

“Football is a game of chances and we wasted so many chances while Leopards scored from a set piece and a counter attack and that is why we lost. But having said that I was happy with the way we played. The boys were able to hold their own despite the huge crowd,” said Thika coach John Kamau Irungu.


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