Nairobi — George Abege headed home in added time as 10-man Kariobangi Sharks came from a goal down to hold AFC Leopards to a 1-1 draw in a Kenyan Premier League match at the Kasarani Stadium on Wednesday evening.
Whyvonne Isuza had scored perhaps the quickest goal in Kenyan Premier League history, tapping home after just 20 seconds to give AFC Leopards the lead.
However, Abege stepped off the bench to head home a free-kick in the last minute of the match to see the sides share spoils.
Sharks were reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute after youthful defender Ian Taifa was sent off for a second yellow card. But, the never say die attitude of William Muluya's men saw them go off with at least a point.
Isuza broke the deadlock with the easiest of tasks guiding home the ball into a gaping goalmouth after being put through by the sensational winger Paul Were who was making his second appearance for Ingwe since returning to the den.
Were did the donkey work on the left skipping past his markers before drawing keeper John Oyemba to his near post and cutting back for Isuza to tap home simply into an empty net.
This was the second consecutive assist for Were in as many matches and this was a replica of the third goal they scored against Posta Rangers last week. From kick off, David Ochieng picked the ball in midfield, sprayed it to Were who did the rest.
AFC were buoyed by the early goal and had another chance off a set piece in the eighth minute but skipper Robinson Kamura's curling effort from 30 yards out flew straight into keeper Oyemba's arms.
All this time, Sharks were yet to settle into the game but had momentum sway their way in the 25th minute when a move from the right saw Taifa break into the box but went down under a challenge from Isaac Kipyegon, but the shouts for a penalty were downed by the referee.
Two minutes later, they were almost gifted a chance when Ochieng lost the ball in midfield and in an effort to recover floored Sidney Lokale at the edge of the box.
However, Nixon Omondi lifted the ball over from the resultant set-piece which was placed in good scoring range.
With Harambee Stars head coach Sebastien Migne and his assistant up in the stands scouting for a team for the African Cup of Nations in June, onus was on the players down on the pitch to put up a performance worth remembering.
Pressure was on two; Ochieng and Were, who returned back home from stints in Europe with the sole purpose of earning valuable playing time to audition for a place in the AFCON team.
And if there was a day to prove their worth, then on a smooth playing surface at the Kasarani Stadium was the right auditorium to play the orchestra. Ochieng put in a defensive midfield role put in a shift while Were was pulling the strings on the wing.
But even as the contest on the ball grew, so did the emotions of the game. In more than one occasion the referee had to come in between flying fists and at one time Isuza and Sharks skipper Patillah Omotto almost came into blows after the former flew in poorly into a tackle on the latter.
In the second half, the tempo increased, AFC looking for a second goal to seal some comfort while Sharks who were chasing the game needed a catalyst for a comeback.
Six minutes after the restart, AFC had a chance when right back Yusuf Mainge took a confident chance from the wing, cutting into a good shooting position but his grass cutter went inches off target.
Sharks were reduced to 10 men in the 63rd minute when Taifa was sent off for a second bookable offense after a kung-fu like tackle on Kipyegon.