Vipers are forced to battle for a draw a man down against Wakiso Giants after Fahad Bayo is dismissed, as the title chasers blow an opportunity to stretch their lead at the summit.
STARTIMES UGANDA PREMIER LEAGUE
By Joseph Kizza
Leaders Vipers had a perfect chance to slam the door on fellow Premier League title chasers KCCA, but once again, the Venoms allowed just enough room for an exciting conclusion to the season, after they were held 0-0 by Wakiso Giants on Friday.
But that perfect plan never came to fruition - it was overshadowed by a reduction in their personnel when lead striker Fahad Bayo was sent off for a deliberate handball, moments before a downpour descended on the game to dampen any lingering embers of hope for a breakthrough.
Vipers' deficit in personnel was not immediately felt, as they continued to huff and puff shortly after Bayo's 33rd-minute dismissal, but the lasting effects of playing a man short eventually emerged after the interval as Wakiso Giants piled sustained pressure on the tabletoppers, especially in the closing stages of the game.
Fabien Mutombora was often drawn into instinctive saves as the marauding Sharks propelled into Vipers' final third with lethal ambition. But the Burundian goalkeeper was in fine form to keep out danger after danger.
Kajoba was cornered into an early subsitution in the opening half when Karim Watambala had to limp off injured towards the break, with Bobosi Byaruhanga his replacement. The Vipers tactician brought on Tito Okello four minutes into the second half to inject more impetus in the attack.
But even for a dangerous forward like Okello, things sometimes just don't work out. The hosts, lying in the bottom half of the table, were not about to cave in to a second defeat in a row, and therefore metamorphosed into a block of gladiatorial resilience that instead nearly turned the contest in their own favour.
FULL TIME ⚽️ #UPL: @WakisoGiantsFC 0-0 @VipersSC🟥— The New Vision (@newvisionwire) March 6, 2020
Both sides had bright prospects at the start but a downpour🌧️ later in the game dampened any chances of a breakthrough.
56' Elsewhere: @URAFC_Official 1-1 #Police | #VisionUpdates #WGFCVIP #URAPOL
📸 @Ssakayekoyada pic.twitter.com/ffG2haTMbc
On an evening eventually dampened by moody weather, Amos Muwonge tested Mutombora, and his troubling presence in the danger zone drew Ibrahim Tembo into a timely block to snuff out the Wakiso forward's attack on wet surface.
With under 10 minutes to referee Shamira Nabadda's final whistle, Allan Kayiwa came agonisingly close to breaking the home shackles, but his strike was a tad wide of the mark.
In a topsy-turvy rain-battered finale in Wakiso, home keeper Derrick Emukule had to be on high alert to keep the late attacks at bay while his teammates too had a go on the other end of the slippery pitch. But after a fierce battle witnessed by fans who had to dash for cover from the heavy rain, the loot had to be shared at the end of the day.
Vipers, now on 54 points, are four points ahead of holders KCCA, who are breathing hard on their necks with four games left to wrap up this season. Wakiso missed out on a chance to climb to eighth and The Purple Sharks will have to make do with 10th place - which is itself a lift one floor up.
Meanwhile, in the other game played on Friday, Police gave their fight against the drop a huge boost by arresting their four-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory over URA at the Arena of Visions in Ndejje.
Derrick Kakooza put the visitors in front in the 10th minute, before Hassan Kalega restored parity halfway into the opening half. Ben Ocen had the final say with his winner in the 80th minute to lift the Cops out of the relegation zone to settle in 13th on 25 points.
Maroons (now 14th) slipped back into the red zone, which features Proline (15th) and Tooro United (16th). Meanwhile, URA stayed intact in fifth on 40 points, squandering a chance to leapfrog on-form Busoga United (42 points).