Goalkeeper Francis Ochieng' scored from his own half to rescue a point for the soldiers' in coach Robert Matano's first match since taking charge
Goalkeeper Francis Ochieng’s 93rd minute goal helped Ulinzi Stars rescue a point against Thika United at Afraha Stadium in Nakuru on Saturday.
The soldiers’, who showed a very good game, had gone behind through a Michael Olunga first half goal, but Ochieng’s outrageous goal saw the two share spoils. This was coach Robert Matano’s first game in charge for the soldiers’ and the point was welcome as he begins his journey of reviving Ulinzi Stars’ season.
Ulinzi looked hungrier from the first whistle and constantly camped in their opponent’s half in search of an early goal. Oliver Kiprutto had the first chance in the 8th minute with a header from Antony Muriithi’s free-kick but it went wide. In the 11th minute, Kevin Amwayi had a chance for the soldiers with a free-kick from his favorite left foot but it disappointingly went straight into Hamza Muwonge’s arms.
The closest chance for the Robert Matano coached side came in the 22nd minute, Oliver Agwanda seeing his left foot shot come off the crossbar. The winger had received the ball calmly on the right before cutting in and striking a superb shot only to be denied by the bar.
Ulinzi kept on the early pressure but they were let down by poor decisions in the final attacking third. Coach Robert Matano had made only one change to the team, bringing in Geoffrey Kokoyo in defense in place of Mohammed Hassan. The veteran did well partnering with Mulinge Ndetto and they kept the deadly duo of Moses Arita and Michael Olunga at bay.
However, their tight defense line would be broken at the stroke of half time, Olunga shooting past Ochieng after dispossessing Oliver Ruto. The Ulinzi left back had gone down from Olunga’s challenge but referee Damaris Kimani was not convinced it was a foul.
In the second period, Ulinzi kept on knocking hoping the door would open. Collins Ochieng had a chance in the 53rd minute but his shot went just wide. Stephen Waruru and Geoffrey Kokoyo both saw their headers fly wide.
Keeper Ochieng’, who converted from striking to goalkeeping four seasons ago, tried his luck from a dead ball which he is good at with seven minutes to play but it missed the target by inches.
However, with two minutes of added time played, the experienced custodian made no mistake, luck helping him to it with his free-kick from the halfway line trickling into the net with the Thika defense and keeper Hamza Muwoonge caught off guard.