Defending champions Vipers win at home against Kirinya Jinja SSS, as bottom sides Paidha Black Angels and Ndejje University share the spoils.
(Photo credit: Vipers SC)
STARTIMES UGANDA PREMIER LEAGUE
|Vipers||1-0||Kirinya Jinja SSS|
|Paidha Black Angels||2-2||Ndejje University|
By Joseph Kizza
KITENDE - Defending champions Vipers SC were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time against Kirinya Jinja SSS, but they held on just long enough to scramble over the finish line and keep their unbeaten streak alive.
Home defender Ibrahim Kiyemba failed to stay on the pitch for the entirety of the game as he was sent off for trying to run down the clock - with referee Brian Miiro Nsubuga wise enough to see through his time-wasting antics.
The defender's side will have felt fortunate that by the time they went a man less, the duel was already in stoppage time.
You could say that Kiyemba's sending off had been a time bomb long waiting to detonate. He had already been booked six minutes into the second half for clattering into Kirinya's Joel Madondo. That right away meant that the referee had one corner of his eyes locked on his moves - and when the defender tried to beat the clock in the dying minutes, his own time had prematurely run out.
By this time, though, the hosts had preserved their lead and their personnel deficiency did not hurt them.
Tito Okello had put them in front in the 39th minute when he tapped in from Abraham Ndugwa's measured pass after a period of sustained pressure from Vipers.
The final scoreline could have read differently - in many more ways than one. Finer, if the hosts had been precise on goal; or balanced, if the visitors had turned away their chances too.
On the half-hour mark, Okello should have tested visiting goalkeeper Emmanuel Rubangakene much better, but his fierce strike was overcooked and flew over the bar. Two minutes later, Willy Makuro swept the ball off the line to frustrate the hosts again.
Okello had to make way for Rahmat Ssenfuka five minutes after the restart as Michael Ouma sought to inject renewed impetus in his attacking faculty.
The visitors, on the other hand, did not let their foot off the pedal and occasionally did cause unease within the Venoms' back. Once, keeper Fabien Mutombora nearly made a mess of what should have been a routine save, and will have been glad that Halid Lwaliwa was in the right place at the right time to clear the danger.
In the end, it was a hard-earned victory that kept Ouma's side as the only man standing on the lonely unbeaten side of the league this season. All the other 15 teams have been beaten at least once. Not the Venoms.
It also arrested a run of two games without a win for the holders, who drew 1-1 against Mbarara City and URA SC in their previous two games.
Friday's result helped Vipers, who face Nyamityobora FC nex, close in on table toppers KCCA FC. They are now three points adrift of the 12-time champions.
Bottom-table clash ends in stalement
Meanwhile, several miles away from Kampala, another battle was being played out in Arua as the bottom two sides - Paidha Black Angels and Ndejje University - flexed their muscles in a stranglehold against the drop.
With the second round of the season underway, the fight against relegation can never get any more real than it is now. Winning every game is paramount.
Paidha, the hosts, knew exactly this and hoped to put to good use home advantage to brush aside a fellow bottom side. They took the lead after 20 minutes through Charlie Adam.
But an Anwar Ntege penalty brought the visitors back in the game just after the half-hour mark. Noel Nasasira completed a comeback for Ndejje in the 71st minute, but Paidha found the leveller four minutes before time.
No winner at the final whistle.
The result has no effect on the look of the table, save for adding a point each to both clubs. Paidha remain at the root of the log on eight points while Ndejje are immediately ahead on 10 points.