Tusker stumble in title race with home draw against Nzoia as Bandari give themselves a chance

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 22 – A pair of set-piece goals in between an Ibrahim Joshua brace saw Tusker FC drop two massive points in the race towards the FKF Premier League title after a 2-2 draw at home against Nzoia Sugar on Sunday.

Tusker moved back to the top of the table with the single point, tied at 57 points with Kakamega Homeboyz, but the latter have one match more to play courtesy of Mathare United’s relegation from the Premier League.

While Homeboyz had three points from their win over Mathare chalked off, they have a one match advantage as Tusker were yet to play the Slum Boys and were scheduled to play them next weekend.

Meanwhile, third placed Bandari FC also raised their title hopes, a 2-0 victory over Kariobangi Sharks at the Kasarani Annex seeing them move to within four points of the leaders.

Tusker have now dropped four points with back to back draws in the run in for the title, and couldn’t take maximum advantage of Homeboyz’s draw against Gor Mahia on Saturday.

Nzoia, who were looking to move further away from the relegation zone were hungrier and it showed from the start.

The visitors asked the first questions at the Ruaraka Complex with Joseph Mwangi’s snap shot from distance being turned behind for a corner by Patrick Matasi. The custodian who has 16 clean sheets so far this season made another save from the setpiece, this time keeping off James Kibande’s header at the near post.

Tusker FC’s John Njuguna vies for the ball with Nzoia Sugar’s Levis Okello. PHOTO/timothy Olobulu

The brewers survived once again when Matasi spilled a cross from the right with a goalmouth melee resulting but finally the home side cleared.

Tusker slowly grew into the game and had two chances. In the 19th minute, John Njuguna curled in a freekick from the right which Humphrey Katasi turned over.

On the half hour mark, the custodian made another palming save when he smothered a cross-cum-shot from Isaac Kipyegon on the left.

The brewers finally had their goal in the 39th minute when Joshua scored on the second bite of the cherry. His first header off a Kipyegon cross came against the crossbar, but he was quick on the rebound to thump home, despite Katasi trying to grab it off the line.

In the second half, Nzoia came stronger and they threatened once again in the 54th minute, this time Christopher Oruchum clearing off the line from another cross.

Tusker’s Shami Mwinyi battles for the ball with Nzoia Sugar’s James Kibande. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

They kept the pressure and scored twice in two minutes in similar fashion, both from set pieces. They levelled in the 70th minute, Mwangi heading home at the backpost after Patrick Matasi came off his line and failed to put a hand to Kibande’s freekick.

Twoi minutes later, Tusker conceded another setpiece goal, Kibande once again delivering and Ian Karani, perhaps the shortest man inside the box, sneaking between the defence to head in past Matasi.

Tusker were rattled and the two quick goals threw them off balance.

However, they found a route back into the match when Joshua added his second of the day and his 11th this season with another headed finish, this time connecting to a brilliant delivery from Eric Zakayo.

Tusker had made offensive changes with Zakayo, Deo Ojok and David Majak all coming in. Ojok, an off the bench goal getter almost sneaked in the winner in the 82nd minute but couldn’t land his header from Kipyegon’s cross on target, the ball flying across the face of goal.

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