Ten-man Gor Mahia proved too good for fourth-placed Tusker as they edged them 1-0 to move into second place on goal difference to move two points behind leaders Bandari in the ongoing Kenyan Premier League.
Nicholas Kipkirui was once again the hero, notching the winner 10 minutes into the second half to leave the brewers ruing a missed opportunity.
Oktay was relieved that the win against Tusker came without influential play-maker Francis Kahata. Tusker had three former Gor Mahia men in their starting 11 including defender Lloyd Wahome, winger Kevin Omondi and striker Timothy Otieno with the trio particularly eager to impress against their old club.
After a subdued start, the game was livened up when a rush of adrenaline from first choice shot stopper Boniface Oluoch who was sent off midway through the first half for a high footed lunge on former team-mate Omondi.
Winger George Odhiambo was immediately sacrificed making way for Shabaan Odhonji to take his place in goal. Despite a succession of promising moves initiated by Peter Nzuki and Jackson Macharia, the brewers never truly tested Odhonji’s resolve was the goal-less scoreline held to half-time with Gor looking in control despite their numerical disadvantage.
You would have thought the brewers would go full throttle for victory after the break but instead it was the champions who looked in charge.
In the 56th minute, their attack paid off when Kipkirui bundled home Shaffique Batambuze’s corner to leave Tusker with all to do. With their noses in front Ernest Wendo replaced hardworking Lawrence Juma for the final quarter of the match.
Soon after, Onyango should have doubled Gor’s lead when sent clear but he could not make the opportunity count with only Emery to beat.
The brewers shot stopper then produced a one handed save to push away Charles Momanyi’s header.
Tuyisenge, who was having an unusually quiet game as Wahome watched over him like an eagle, had a sight of goal fifteen minutes from time but he too could not add to K’Ogalo’s advantage.
The brewers striker Otieno thought he had pulled his side level but his goal was disallowed for an infringement in the build up. Tuyisenge was replaced in the final moments by Dennis Oliech.
Gor Mahia will now shift their attention to two crucial Caf Confederation Cup duels in North Africa, first with NA Hussein Dey in Algeria on Sunday and with Zamalek in Cairo five days later.