Thika United staged a stunning come back to beat KCB 3-2 at the Nyayo National Stadium yesterday afternoon and promptly erased the memories of their 5-0 mauling they suffered at the hands of Kenya Premier League leaders AFC Leopards last time they were in action.
John Kamau with the nightmare of that previous result still lingering, rung the changes and brought in six new faces into the starting line up, Kepha Aswani, Joseph Kuria, Jackson Kamau, Haji Mwachoki, Wycliffe Opondo and goalkeeper Joel Bataro and in the opening exchanges it looked like his decision was masterstroke as Thika dominated.
Clifton Miheso went close in the sixth minute with a free kick that Caleb Adola did well to hold on to then a minute later another ferocious effort from Opondo was also gathered by the KCB custodian as Thika searched for the first goal. KCB though slowly came back into the match and a good move initiated by Brian Osumba ended with Edwin Mwaura shooting woefully wide when a cross to the lurking Clifford Alwanga and Jacob Keli could have sufficed.
In the 16th minute Kelly to read from Mwaura's script shooting high and wide on a counter instead of passing the ball to Alwanga. Thika responded with a move of their own with Miheso, the international left back sending an inviting cross that Haji just failed to connect with as the game swung form one end to the other.
Keli could have given KCB the lead in the 38th minute but failed to hit target getting Simon Mbugua straight in the midriff from a Mwaura cross that was spilt by Bataro. The Thika keeper was not lucky in the 43rd minute as he cleared a shot from Mwaura only for the ball to fall to Keli whose shot came off the hands of Liberian Dirkir Glay. Mwaura made no mistake form the spot to give KCB a 1-0 going into the break.
A frantic second half followed and within two minutes of the restart KCB were two nil up. Keli escaped down the right and sent a cross that caused panic in the Thika goal area and Bataro let the ball fall from his grasp for Peter Wainaina to tap in. A sense of de javu gripped Kamau's men but they need not have worried. With 48 minutes played Geoffrey Muhando who had come in for Kuria found Kahata down the left.
The winger then attempted to cross only to see the ball fall above the misjudged jump of Adola and into the net. Game on. Thika were on the ascendancy and Adola redeemed himself somewhat, saving from the feet of Kahata in the 58th minute. Thika restored parity in the 72nd minute. Mwachoki was found by Aswani but his effort was put out for a corner by Benedict Owuor
From the corner ,KCB failed to clear their lines and Thika skipper Vincent Mogaka attempted to bring the ball back into the box only for it to hit the outstretched hand of Mwaura. Referee Richard Obare pointed to the spot, Haji Mwachoki hit the back of the net to level the game. The winner was to come in the 75th minute.
Macharia combined well with Muhando after robbing Osumba of the ball the substitute then sent a cross into the box for Aswani to score his 11th goal of the season and give Thika three much needed points to push Thika into fifth place with 36 points and leave KCB still 12th only four points above the drop zone.
AFC Leopards still top of the table five more than defending champions Tusker who beat Sony Sugar by a Peter Opiyo penalty to move into second above Sofapaka. Tusker though have a game in hand. Sofapaka drew 0-0 with Nairobi City stars to fall to third. Ulinzi are fourth with 36 points with Gor Mahia sixth with 33. Muhoroni's 1-1 draw with Mathare United saw them get out of the relegation zone on goal difference. Rangers(20) and Oserian (16) occupy the two drop lots.