Promotion-chasing Mathare survive Vihiga scare to pull nine clear in NSL

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 1 – Mathare United survived a second half comeback from Vihiga Bullets as they edged their fellow ex-Premier League mates 3-2 in a National Super League (NSL) fixture at the Ruaraka Complex on Friday evening to move nine points clear top of the second tier standings.

Mathare clinched their fourth win in five matches as they kept the wheels that promise to take them back to the top tier rolling, with head coach Leonard Odipo elated with their resilience.

“We are pleased with the performance of the team as these three points take us to where we want to go. I am grateful to the platers for the fighting spirit they show in each game. Matches are really difficult and we have to keep focused,” Odipo told Capital Sport after the match.

He added; “We are on the right track. Of course there is lots of competition but we need to maintain our run. The ultimate focus is to get back to the Premier League, but we have to work for it. It can’t come on a silver platter.”

Odipo pays tribute to fans 

Action between Mathare United and Vihiga Bullets. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

The coach has also paid tribute to the club’s fans for coming out in numbers to offer them support, saying their presence increases their hunger to get back to top flight football.

“They (fans) have a lot of expectations. They are starved to see Mathare back to where it belongs and we appreciate that they are pushing the boys,” said the tactician.

Coming off a 1-1 draw with Rainbow FC in their last match, Mathare were keen to get back to winning ways and they fancied their chances against bottom side Bullets.

They broke the deadlock in the 26th minute when Fidel Otieno scored a brilliant goal with a low shot from the right, finishing off a move he had initiated himself in the middle of the pack.

They had been on the offensive from the start and just before the goal, Christian Lubulu had forced the Bullets keeper to a brilliant save off a shot from just outside the box after being accorded acres of space.

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The Slum Boys went to the break 2-0 up when they added the second seven minutes to the break, Steve Kimari smashing the ball home from close range after Tony Odhiambo’s outswinging freekick was not cleared well.

Lubulu gets Mathare’s third

Mathare United skipper Godfrey Ochieng controls the ball under pressure from a Vihiga Bullets player. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu
Mathare United skipper Godfrey Ochieng controls the ball under pressure from a Vihiga Bullets player. PHOTO/Timothy Olobulu

Four minutes into the second half, they were 3-0 up when Lubulu volleyed home from inside the box, controlling a corner unmarked before firing into the net.

Vihiga however rose from their slumber and began to pin Mathare in their own half. They got one goal back in the 70th minute when Lawrence Ouma thumped the ball home unmarked from the backpost off a Thomas Omole cross.

Nine minutes to time, substitute Erastus Oduor made for some nervous ending when he headed home from a John Juma long throw. They knew they could push for an equalizer and dumped balls into the Mathare zone, but their efforts didn’t bear fruit.

Bullets remain second from bottom with eight points, after suffering their fourth loss in five matches.

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