A 44th minute strike by Nicholas Kipkirui gave Gor Mahia a 1-0 win over Vihiga United at Bukhungu stadium on Wednesday.
Additional reporting from the Nation
Gor Mahia warmed up for the upcoming Mashemeji Derby against eternal rivals AFC Leopards with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Vihiga United in a midweek SportPesa Premier League match at Bukhungu Stadium on Wednesday.
Nicholas Kipkirui’s 44th minute header was all champions Gor Mahia needed to see-off a determined Vihiga side in Kakamega.
The former Zoo Kericho forward headed home Samuel Onyango’s pin-point cross to give K’Ogalothe lead at the stroke of half-time and the champions held on for the win.
The win, coming three days after Gor shocked Egyptian giants Zamalek 4-2 in their opening Caf Confederation Cup Group D match on Sunday, saw Gor move three places into third place in the league standings.
Gor coach Hassan Oktay bemoaned his side’s profligacy in front of goal.
“We played against a very stubborn side in their own backyard but the result is. There are areas I feel should be improved on as we go into our next fixtures,” he said.
Vihiga tactician Mike Mururi blamed his misfiring forward line for the loss.
“They did not co-ordinate well,” he said.
Gor Mahia dictated the proceedings right from the start and could have grabbed the lead five minutes into the match when Jacques Tuyisenge’s shot in the box hit the woodwork.
Referee Lucas Odhiambo awarded Vihiga a free-kick after Charles Momanyi fouled Kevin Muhanji on the edge of the box but Chris Masinza shot straight at goalkeeper Boniface Olouch before Harun Shakava saw his headed effort miss the target on the other end from Ernest Wendo’s delivery.
With both sides seemingly headed for the breather level, Samuel Onyango picked Kipkirui with a perfect cross inside the danger zone and the former Zoo Kericho man made no mistake from close range.
After the breather, both teams upped the tempo. Vihiga could have equalised on 47 minutes but Amos Kigadi failed to beat Olouch in Gor’s post.
Oktay introduced Dennis Oliech for Kipkirui in the second, while Mike Isabwa replaced injured Victor Ademba for Vihiga on 35 minutes.