Rwandan striker Jacques Tuyisenge struck at the death as Gor Mahia overcame bogey side Bandari 1-0 in a closely contested SportPesa Premier League match at Moi Stadium in Kisumu on Tuesday.
The win saw Gor Mahia regain the premiership leadership from Sofapaka, although the champions still have three matches at hand.
The game seemed to be headed for a barren draw with Bandari looking content with a point, as they engaged in time wasting tactics, which saw goalkeeper Faruk Shikalo booked.
Tuyisenge rose high to connect with an incoming cross which Shikalo, who had produced a man-of the-match performance, failed to deal with.
“One nil is not fair, the result should be three nil or more because we created several chances. But we have won and I am very happy,” said Gor’s coach Hassan Oktay, whose side now tops the league on 49 points, one ahead of Sofapaka.
Bandari’s assistant coach Nasoro Mwakoba said while his charges played well, Gor used their opportunities well, hence deserved the win.
“The game was good, every time we have met Gor, we have always played well like today. They used their chances well and won.”
Collins Agade and Yema Mwama forced Gor’s goalkeeper Shaban Odhonji to a double early save, as the Mombasa-based side sought to complete a double league victory against the champions.
Gor attacker Nicholas Kipkirui failed to break the deadlock after Francis Kahata found him inside the box with a volley assist, before Joash Onyango was lucky not to score an own goal as he fumbled while attempting to clear Hassan Abdala’s cross.
A defensive lapse almost cost the defending champions on the 20th minute when William Waridi managed to sneak between Gor’s defence and stretched to unleash a drive which Odhonji parried.
Unsettled Gor won a free-kick inside their opponents’ half, which was poorly taken by Hashim Sempala, before Shikalo produced a brilliant save in the 34th minute to deny the former Tusker man from long range.
Onyango was brilliant in the first-half as he managed to deal with Mwama, who proved a menace with his runs.
Both sides made early changes in the second-half, Bandari resting Shaban Kenga for Benjamin Mosha, while Gor introduced Kenneth Muguna and Dennis Oliech for Sempala and Kipkirui respectively.
The hosts should have found the back of the net in the early minutes of the restart, but both Sammy Onyango and Tuyisenge saw their headers saved by Shikalo, before Odhonji also denied Wadri at the other end.
Substitute Oliech missed a glorious opportunity to fire K’Ogalo ahead on the 67th minute from a one-on-one situation with Shikalo. Instead of sending a powerful shot, the veteran forward went for a weak low curve which Shikalo stretched well to punch.
Bandari had Fred Nkata to thank 10 minutes later, as the latter raced to disposes Kahata inside the box with a cautious tackle, before the Harambee Stars midfielder could strike.
Coach Benard Mwalala’s side suffered a blow in added time when Tuyisenge found the back of the net with a header.